In the elections to the United States Congress, the number of women in the race is a record, pulled in part by Republicans who are trying to get elected by a party that struggles to recover the space lost among the female electorate.
The movement intensifies the advance of the candidates – the majority of the Democratic Party – observed in the 2018 electoral cycle, which contributed to give a new face to Congress. The picture also impacts the presidential race, based on voting patterns seen two years ago and Democrat Joe Biden’s lead in polls about President Donald Trump among voters. Biden promised to choose a woman as a running mate.
“We wondered if 2018 would be a point off the curve,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “In fact, we saw that the numbers continue to grow.”
Until July 1, 574 women registered in the primary elections to run for seats in the Chamber of Deputies, surpassing the record of 476 reached two years ago, according to data compiled by the center. Another 58 women entered to run for the Senate, compared with 53 in 2018. In total, the number of women seeking a seat in the US Congress has increased by 20%. The figures include 104 who are seeking re-election.
Among them are parliamentarians who quickly gained national prominence after being elected for the first time in 2018. This is the case with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a deputy from New York, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and a star in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia deputy, who worked for the CIA and won the seat in a district dominated by Republicans a long time ago.
Recovering the majority in the Chamber
As candidates and voters, women were instrumental in enabling the Democratic Party to regain a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. This sparked an effort by Republicans to recruit more candidates. About 246 women signed up to run for legislative seats for the Republican Party this year, 73% more than the total of 142 registered two years ago.
In 2016, the victory of Trump about Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated as a presidential candidate for a major party, was a great motivator for women who ran for the first time in 2018, especially for the Democratic Party.
“The 2016 election did a lot to inspire women in 2018,” said Walsh. “There was a sense of loss of potential, of losing ground on a number of issues, which were tremendously important for many women.”
The gender gap between the two parties widened. In 2016, Hilary’s advantage over Trump among women it was 13 percentage points (54% to 41%), according to exit polls published by CNN. In the 2018 congressional election, 59% of women voted for the Democratic Party.
In 2020, in the dispute between Trump and Biden for the White House, several recent polls show the Democrat 21-26 percentage points ahead of women.