Froma Harrop | Sex, Violence and the Female Voter

The line between crazy and creepy is not always a dark one. Voters may tolerate eccentric candidates if they have a good line and fairly coherent worldview. Creepiness is something else. Politicians who threaten violence or question the sexual adequacy of their opponents give people — especially female people — the crawlies.

The most memorable line in the Nevada senatorial race will be Republican Sharron Angle’s telling Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “man up.” While she has a tiny lead in the latest polls, note that women prefer Reid by a 51-33 margin.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is pulling far ahead of his Republican rival for governor, Carl Paladino. This used to be a close race.

Things headed downhill when the real estate developer threatened to “clean out Albany with a baseball bat.” He was also found to have been e-mailing pornography — a woman with a horse, to be specific. And he accused Cuomo of lacking (can I say “cojones”?) something. Polls now have Cuomo leading Paladino by 30-give-or-take points, with an even wider margin among women.

Next door in Connecticut, Republicans have two candidates with violence issues. Senatorial candidate Linda McMahon poses in her campaign ads as a tweedy suburban matron. But she and her husband made their fortune on World Wrestling Entertainment, which traffics in steroids, dirty language, sex and violence — and markets it all to children. McMahon is running against Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

“I’d venture to say we’re going to lay the smackdown on him in November,” McMahon said after the state’s Republican leadership gave her the nod, no doubt impressed by the $50 million she waved in their faces.

Since then, we’ve seen the video of husband Vince McMahon in the ring, ordering a female wrestler to disrobe, get on her knees and “bark like a dog.” We’ve seen Linda herself kicking a man in the groin. That the couple named their yacht Sexy Bitch is an especially nice touch.

Blumenthal’s campaign suffered a blow when the former Marine reservist wrongly claimed to have fought in Vietnam. For a while, polls portrayed a tight race, but McMahon’s yuck factor eventually took its toll: To know her is to not love her. Polls now have Blumenthal well ahead.

Elsewhere in Connecticut, the governor’s race features a candidate who had spent a night in the clink for ramming his car into another filled with passengers. Republican Tom Foley had been arrested and charged with first-degree attempted assault.

That happened in Southampton, N.Y., 19 years ago. However, Foley was arrested against in 1993, and charged with breach of peace for trying to stop his then-estranged wife’s car from leaving his driveway. Their young son was inside. The Greenwich businessman was not convicted in the first case. In the second, his former wife dropped the charges.

But when filling out a federal background-check form, Foley answered “no” to the question of whether he had been charged with anything more serious than a “minor traffic offense.” He evidently decided to portray using a car as a weapon as a “minor traffic offense.”

Polls show Foley trailing former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, the Democrat, by only single digits. But among women, he’s behind 20 percentage points.

Women generally don’t cotton to the huffing-and-puffing political Bluto, even when he’s a she. Like Angle in Nevada, McMahon’s campaign is doing poorly among women. It appears that the sexual humiliation of females for the amusement of boys and men isn’t going over big with the ladies, especially those in Connecticut.

Remember, Olive Oyl preferred Popeye. He may have lacked polish, but he was decent.

Copyright 2010 The Providence Journal Co. Distributed by Creators.com