A record-setting number of women are running for the House in 2018

April 6, 2018

Vox: A record-setting number of women are running for the House in 2018

By: Ella Nilson

It’s official: The number of women running for the US House of Representatives this year has broken a record, a new analysis from the Associated Press has found.

309 women, Republicans and Democrats alike, have filed candidacy papers to run for the House, eclipsing the previous record of 298 set in 2012, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University that AP analyzed. And that number is likely to grow in the coming months.

The surge in female candidates is being driven by backlash to President Donald Trump and is an extension of the historic Women’s March after he was inaugurated. That is in part reflected by the fact that far more Democratic women candidates are running than Republicans.

“I think Trump’s victory proved to women — if you did not support him — you could draw two conclusions,” top Hillary Clinton aide Jennifer Palmieri recently told me in an interview. “One: Women were only meant to go so far, and men like that were meant to win in America, or we were playing by an outdated set of rules that women politicians and women in business followed for decades.”

The current representation of women and men in Congress is severely lopsided. Women make up less than 20 percent of Congress. Out of 535 total members, there are just 22 women senators and 83 women representatives.

And to be sure, the historic number of women candidates is still outnumbered by men running in 2018.

Women in 2018 aren’t just running for Congress — they’re running for all levels of government, from local to federal. Emily’s List, the Super PAC focused on electing pro-choice female candidates, released numbers showing that 34,000 women interested in running for office have reached out to the organization. (Not all are running.)

That is an astronomical increase in the number of women interested in running for office who contacted Emily’s List during the 2016 campaign, which numbered about 920. To try to match the outpouring of interest, the Super PAC has since released a free webinar with tips for women on how to start a campaign and fundraise.

Outside of US House races, there are 40 women running for governors races so far, beating the record of 34 in 1994, according to the Associated Press. There 29 women running for US Senate, a number that will likely grow since more states still have filing deadlines. (This is not yet a record; that was set in 2016 when 40 women Senate candidates ran.)

Officials at Emily’s List and other women recruitment organizations like Emerge America say many of the women interested in running in 2018 have told them they didn’t think they were qualified to run for office in the past. That changed when they saw Trump get elected.

Palmieri told me recently she thinks women’s attitudes about how they want to run a campaign are also changing — with fewer women wanting to play by the rules men have set for them in politics.

“I think women now are saying, ‘Yes, I can do this job as well as a man, but I don’t want to. I want to do it the way I want to do it,’” Palmieri said. “That’s reflected in the numbers of candidates. I think it’s going to result in more empowerment for women and a democracy and government that’s more representative of the people it governs.”