In 2016 just 212 women ran for the House, including both Democrats and Republicans. The most recent figures indicate that 431 women are either running or are likely to run in 2018: 339 Democrats and 92 Republicans.
Senate numbers reveal a similar pattern: 25 women were running at this point in 2016 and 50 are running or likely to run this year (29 Democrats and 21 Republicans). Since state deadlines are still in the future, that number could definitely increase.
This pattern, which is playing out nationwide, is also true in races for governor. So far at least 82 women (51 Democrats and 31 Republicans) are running for governor in 2018 or are seriously considering it. The previous record was set in 1994, when 34 women entered gubernatorial races.
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Currently, there are 105 women (78 Democrats and 27 Republicans) in the U.S. Congress, just under 20 percent of the 535 members: 84 women serve in the House and 21 women hold seats in the Senate.
In addition, five women delegates (three Democrats and two Republicans) represent the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands in the House.
In 2018, there are just six women (two Democrats and four Republicans) who serve as governors.
Now this could all change.
One of those women was Ashley Bennett, a psychiatric emergency screener from Egg Harbor Township.
Republican John Carman, a member of the Atlantic County, New Jersey, legislature, posted on Facebook the day after Trump’s inauguration, “Will the women’s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?” Followed by “Just asking?”
Angered by this comment, Bennett, a Democrat, decided to run against him. She won.
Women are angry. Trump’s election set off a furor, particularly among Democratic women. Millions of women (and men) took to the streets in January 2017, wearing pussy hats and bearing protest signs. Millions marched again in January 2018, refusing to be silenced.
“Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving in terms of motivation to stay engaged and stay involved and not lose your enthusiasm,” says Deborah Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
From health care policies, the tax bill, immigration, to scandals like the White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation after allegations of domestic abuse, the revelation of Trump’s two affairs in 2006 shortly after the birth of his son and the 22 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, there are numerous reasons that Democratic women are furious.
Then there’s the #MeToo movement.
Now, women are turning their fury into political action.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” says Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, which recruits and trains pro-choice female Democratic candidates.
She noted that around 920 women had contacted her group about running for office in the last election cycle. This year, that number is closer to 30,000, although not all of them will necessarily want to run in the mid-term elections.
And it makes sense that the number of female Democrats wanting to run is far higher than the number of female Republicans.
“I think it’s really being driven on the Democratic side,” Walsh said. “I think the energy and the excitement and the determination, not just to run but also in terms of who’s going to show up to vote, right now, it’s on the side of the Democrats.”
The mid-term elections are still over eight months away, but we have an unprecedented wave of female candidates, which makes it extremely likely that more women will be elected.
Thank you, Trump, for stoking the fires of resistance. (Even though this is cold comfort.)