11/03/2014 10:05 am ET Updated Nov 03, 2014

How Will Women Voters Use Their Power?

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When it comes to women voters in Tuesday’s midterm elections, the metaphors are all mixed up. In some headlines, it’s a war. Democrats are still referencing the Republican “war on women,” while GOP candidates say there’s no war at all — it was all a liberal meme. In other headlines, it’s a political dating game. “Women are big this election season,” wrote New York Times columnist Gail Collins last week. “No group is more courted. It’s great!”

So which is it: a battle or a courtship? It’s both. The election has started to feel like a bar fight between two entitled dudes over a woman — it might seem like they’re each trying to earn her attention, but in many ways it’s more about them. This is a strange political era, in which it’s finally cool for politicians of all stripes to claim they are pro-empowerment, but they don’t all feel obligated to follow through with the sorts of policies that would improve life for a majority of American women. Our votes have never been more coveted, but meaningful changes — mandatory family-leave policies or a $15 federal minimum wage — still seem like only distant possibilities.

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