Seth Masket crunches some numbers on female Senate and gubernatorial candidates and finds little evidence that female candidates do systematically better or worse than expected. (I noted his similar analysis of black candidates here.) Caveats abound, but this is an interesting starting point for more rigorous analysis.
Seth was also a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. His thoughts as a “participant observer” are here. His take-away from the last night:
bq. Obama makes you feel like you’re part of a movement. I fully recognize that it’s not a movement — it’s a candidacy. But it’s a rare politician that can convey that feeling. Sometimes we support politicians for purely instrumental reasons — we want lower taxes or particular favors or policies from government and figure we can get it from a particular politician. Sometimes we support politicians simply because they suck somewhat less than the people they’re running against. But people actually enjoy the act of supporting Obama. You feel like you’re part of something important and historical. That is rare.
This, I think, encapsulates the experience of many Obama supporters.