In 2018, the number of women in the House of Representatives and Senate increased by 4%, most of them Democrats. Looking at 2020, however, more women are running for office than ever – especially Republican women.
Fivethirtyeight.com tallied how many women are running for Congress this year and found that over 600 women had filed to run for Congress in 2020 compared to over 500 in 2018, and around 300 in 2016. The difference this year is that more Republican women are running than ever before. Republican women made up 25% of all women running in 2018. They make up 39% of all women running in 2020. The last comparable cycle for Republican women was 2010 when “Tea Party women” made up about 50% of all women running that year, according to Fivethirtyeight.com.
Republicans, like Rep. Elise Stefanik and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have made it a priority this cycle to recruit, train, and support GOP women for Congress. The increased number of Republican women candidates shows their efforts are paying off. More women running for office doesn’t mean more women win, however. Fivethirtyeight.com rightly notes that Republican women have a harder time winning their primaries than Democratic women, especially those running in open-seat red districts. These campaigns must be smart with messaging and targeting, running on issues that matter to the district and not just on their gender.