If you want a sign of the gender gap in American politics, look no further than both parties' Senate recruitment efforts. Democrats have accomplished the rare feat of convincing more women than men to run in leading Senate races next year, include the six women up for reelection.
Democrats believe their A-list of candidates, despite many of their outspoken liberal views, is uniquely positioned to drive the income-inequality message that party strategists believe will be pivotal. However, that bets that biography trumps ideology in 2012.
Of the eight open or Republican-held seats Democrats are aggressively contesting, there's a good chance that a woman will end up as the standard-bearer in at least half.
Democrats' path to holding the Senate winds through Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Rep. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Rep. Shelley Berkley in Nevada, and, potentially, Rep. Mazie Hirono in Hawaii.
Party officials also are hoping former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp can pull off an upset in Republican-friendly North Dakota.
Republicans have landed prominent women candidates too, with former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson best positioned for victory next year. But their A-list roster isn't nearly as deep as the Democrats'.