5 most powerful women in U.S. politics

As the political glass ceiling continues to crack, these women leaders have the most influence.

By InvestorPlace May 22, 2012 7:29AM

By Ben Nanamaker

Since the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was passed more than 90 years ago, great strides have been made in the realm of political equality.

In that time, we have seen the first female Cabinet member (Frances Perkins, appointed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor in 1933), Supreme Court justice (Sandra Day O’Connor) and the first major party vice presidential nominee (Geraldine Ferraro), among many other milestones.

Today the political glass ceiling continues to crack, with women holding key roles on the Supreme Court, in Congress, in the White House and across the media. Female Supreme Court justices, senators, congresswomen, Cabinet members and political pundits exert powerful influence in Washington.

These five women are the current cream of the crop among Washington’s power elite (listed in alphabetical order:

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann rode the Tea Party wave of 2009 to national prominence, both as a Congresswoman and a 2012 Republican presidential primary candidate. Bachmann first was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007, representing the 6th congressional district of Minnesota and becoming the state's first Republican congresswoman.

In August 2011, she became the first woman ever to win the Ames Straw Poll, though the momentum from that win didn’t translate to the primaries. She finished sixth in the Iowa caucuses in January 2012 and suspended her campaign soon after. Still, Bachmann remains a rising star in her party, and it would be too soon to count her out for 2016.

Jan Brewer

What makes Jan Brewer the most powerful female governor among the six currently in charge of various states? It’s a combination of name recognition, bold policy moves and governing one of the key swing states this election cycle.

With Arizona, won by John McCain in 2008, currently a toss-up between Mitt Romney and Obama, Brewer has been unafraid to be critical of Obama on issues near and dear to her constituents and party, particularly illegal immigration. Romney will need her help to deliver Arizona to the GOP column again in 2012.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton, currently the Secretary of State and highest-ranking member of Barack Obama's cabinet, has been a powerful figure in the Democratic Party for nearly 20 years. In 2000, Clinton became the first First Lady to run for and win public office, becoming the first female senator from the state of New York. In 2008, Obama appointed her to be his Secretary of State.

While Clinton has said this will be her last political office, many pundits have put her name out as a top candidate for the 2016 election.

Michelle Obama

As First Lady, Michelle Obama has the ear of arguably the most powerful man in America, Barack Obama. And like many First Ladies who have come before her, Michelle Obama has chosen several causes near and dear to her to support.

Perhaps her most visible cause as First Lady has been tackling childhood obesity through the “Let’s Move!” program. Michelle Obama has appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report and The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote these issues.

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi might have lost some of her power when the Democrats lost control of the House in 2010, but underestimate her power at your own peril. Formerly the Speaker of the House from 2007-11, she is arguably the highest-ranked elected female politician in the history of the United States.

Even as minority leader, Pelosi is known as a shrewd politician and powerful party fundraiser, particularly for other Democratic candidates, since her district is one of the most Democrat-dominated in the country. She has been a staunch supporter of liberal policies, and was critical in getting Obama’s health care plan passed.

Check out InvestorPlace for full write-ups and photos of each woman of power in U.S. politics.

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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Tags: politics
May 23, 2012 1:02PM

OMG...Nancy Pelosi...are you kidding me.

Isn't that the PIN HEAD who stood up on the podium & said


"we have to pass it before we know what's in it"  (referring to the health care bill)


That has to rank as the stupidest thing a Politian has ever said. 

Aug 22, 2012 12:20PM
by the way what happen to Rice, their is a real lady, black, good looking, smart and really works to help the people and the nations.  Why isn't she on this list of your, msn???????
May 23, 2012 4:45PM
"French Poodle" Pelosi...the AIR HEAD-PIN HEAD who lied when IT claimed that IT was never informed about interrrogation policies...
May 31, 2012 10:08AM
She said we have to pass it to find out whats in it. A 1200 page bill that was unconstitutional and we were told we had to have it right now or the wheels would fall off. If polls are true 47+/- % of americans have their head up their ****. Including Warren Buffett.
Aug 22, 2012 12:44PM
Aug 22, 2012 12:34PM
Typical MSN List...incomplete.  Michelle Bachman...ARE YOU NUTS!?
Aug 22, 2012 1:08PM

Glass ceiling? Most college professionals are women, most not working in field (lawyers)by choice are women,

most wealth with women, longest living by far women, most pampered women


want to feel sorry for someone....


white boys.......the scourge of America

Aug 22, 2012 12:17PM
yea hillary is good for starting wars and sending out kids out to fight them while she is somewhere dancing.  nancy thinks she knows how to run everyones life, why doesn't she do something with that face. 
and everyone know michelle just knows how to put herself in the news and spend as much money as she can.  yea they are real powerful msn


Let us take great Pride in Michelle Bachmann, Jan Brewer, & Hillary Clinton. I find it quit sade that the below 2 are on a list with these other 3 woman and without a doubt there are plenty of other woman that could have be put into 4 and 5 and these woman would have been more powerful and with pride we could have looked at the list.

Michelle Obama, is list because she is married to the President as a woman I do not take this with pride. What more this is a woman who was not proud to be and american til her husband was elected, and takes vacation that are exstavicant as american loose their homes, children are hungry and does nothing and no the Taget adds and her gardens the fluff they have added to try to cover up for her diva and totally horrid behavior does not get it for me. Nancy Pelosi, I am ashamed to call her female, look at her insider trading the credit card stocks that have made her so rich she took to stalemate credit card laws, which barely keep a handle on the fact banks % rates and fees which give them billions and they did not mind at all give stocks which congress refuses to make illegal to gain while in office. Pretending it is not money.

At this point, Michelle Bachmann is a has-been. The same for Jan Brewer. They are dwarfed by Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.

How dare you compare these mental midgets with real women.

Aug 22, 2012 1:18PM
I think that list is somewhat skewed.Michelle Obama is the ugly illegitimate offspring of Sasquatch and being such has no right to be on this list.Besides she must be ashamed of her blackness since she has white style hair and does not wear her hair as god intended it.
May 31, 2012 8:50AM
I'm glad this is the opinion of one individual, because Bachmann and Brewer should not be on there. Makulski should be on there......
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