Perception matters -- a lot -- in politics. And at the moment, Republicans' image as a party considered less-than-friendly to women is a major problem. After losing the female vote by just three points in 2004, Republicans lost among women by 13 in 2008 and 11 in 2012. Compounding that problem is the fact that women have made up a solid majority of the overall electorate in each of those three elections -- 54 percent in 2004 and 53 percent in both 2008 and 2012.
With that as a backdrop, you can understand why the (likely) exclusion of former HP executive Carly Fiorina -- the aforementioned one woman running for the Republican nod -- from the first presidential debate in August is so concerning for many Republican types.
Fox News Channel, which is sponsoring that first debate, said last week that the top 10 candidates in an average of the last five national polls would make the stage. And at the moment, Fiorina is nowhere near the top 10.
No, I don't think that Fiorina on the debate stage in Ohio in August would solve the gender gap that Republican presidential nominees have grappled with over the past few cycles. By any measure, she's a long-shot candidate. But debates this early in an election are really symbolic endeavors -- showcasing the sort of face(s) the party is putting forward. And 10 male faces -- seven of which are white -- on a debate stage as the first impression many voters have of the "new" GOP isn't ideal.
There's not a whole heck of a lot Republicans can do to fix that problem. Fiorina is getting some positive reviews on the campaign trail -- especially in Iowa -- so maybe things will take care of themselves. But if they don't, put this down as one of the many reasons that big fields are not what a party wants when trying to pick a presidential nominee.