In an animated debate last night, Governor Romney made at least one camera-ready gaffe. In describing how, as Governor of Massachusetts, he placed women in top leadership roles, he says his managers brought him "binders full of women" to choose from. It was tone-deaf and awkward, and I'm sure his campaign manager winced a bit when he heard it.
But Romney's next comment, in the following sentence, contained really the troublesome part: It was just not true.
Romney continued on to say, "I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America."
Nowhere in that report does it "conclude" that Massachusetts, or Romney, had "more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America."
In Massachusetts, women held 54.5% of top advisor roles. Which, to give Romney some credit, absolutely was higher than the national average.
The only problem is that several other states have a higher percentage of women in top advisor roles. In Arizona, women held 61.3%. In Florida, it was 57.1%. In Iowa, 60%.
At best, Romney's statement was a casual exaggeration. At worst, it was a lie.
Now, let's go a step further, because one study is never really good enough when it comes to statistics. I decided to take a more holistic look at policy leadership on a state-by-state level. Luckily, I didn't have to go to far. The same researchers within Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at SUNY Albany authored a 2005 report titled Women in State Policy Leadership, 1998 - 2005 An Analysis of Slow and Uneven Progress.
In 1998, Massachusetts ranked 25. In 2005--after Romney assumed office--the state moved up merely three spots to 22.
Arizona was first. Then Nevada. Then 19 other states until you finally get to Massachusetts.
In other words, when it comes to putting women in leadership roles, Romney and his campaign have been, well, completely and utterly unremarkable.