In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, an unprecedented number of women — primarily Democrats — are running for office in 2018. Final numbers will not be available for some time, but Emily’s List, an organization that works to elect Democratic women, has reported being contacted by more than who are interested in running for office since Election Day 2016. That is compared with 920 during the entire two-year 2016 election cycle.
(Read original article on The Washington Post)
The open question is whether this energy will result in more women being elected in 2018. It did in Virginia’s 2017 election, where 15 more female legislators were elected to the state’s 100-member House of Delegates.
Two of the victors who defeated Republican male incumbents in Virginia will be the first Hispanic women to serve in the state’s House. A third will be the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a U.S. statehouse.
Only one other state had a statewide election in 2017. In New Jersey’s 2017 election, two female Republican state senators lost their seats to male Democrats.
Both states are still far from having equal representation for women. Given the way female representation looks across the country, even the tidal wave of women running probably will not be enough to get one woman into office for every man.
No state is even close to equal representation
Overall, about a quarter of elected positions in the United States are held by women. There are 1,977 women in power across governorships, congressional seats, and state legislative seats — which means 2,006 more have to win for women to reach equal representation.
Their numbers are highest in states that vote Democratic. In some right-leaning states, women’s share of political leadership drops as low as 11 percent. This chart shows the proportion of Congresspeople, governors, and state legislators who are women, alongside the political parties of both male and female elected officials in the state. (See the full list below.)
The gap is even greater in Congress; 21 states have never sent a woman to the Senate. Five states have never elected a woman to the House. Overall, only 84 of the 432 House members are women (three seats are vacant). Twenty-two of the 100 Senators are women — and that is a record number.
[The sorry state of female representation in Congress just got slightly better thanks to Tina Smith]
At the state executive level, representation is not much better. Twenty-two states have never had a female governor. Three of the six sitting female governors were appointed to the top seat and not elected. Every state has elected women to its legislature. On average, one in every four state legislators is female.
Despite how far they have to go, women are well-positioned for 2018. Studies show women win elections at the same rates as men. The lack of women in office stems from a lack of women running — which is much less of an obstacle this year. With the country’s general swing to the left, female candidates, who overwhelmingly run as Democrats, have a better shot than usual.