A record number of female nominees are running for the House in the 2020 general elections, exceeding the historic number set in the 2018 midterms that brought in a wave of women – mostly Democrats – to Congress and switched party control.
With the conclusion of the regular 2020 primary season following Tuesday’s primaries in Delaware, 298 women advanced to general elections with a large majority of them running as Democrats, according to an analysis by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Of the total number of female House nominees, 204 are Democrats, while 94 are Republicans, with both parties shattering their previous records. The number, however, could slightly grow with a few remaining primaries happening on Election Day.
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It’s a sizable uptick from 2018 when there were record-high numbers of women seeking House seats with 234 nominees. The number of female nominees in 2020 is likely to again bolster the ranks of women serving in Congress which has historically been overwhelmingly run by men despite women representing more than half the U.S. population. There are a number of female nominees, however, who will face steep hurdles in November since they’re running in districts that are considered swing seats or ones that dramatically tilt towards one party.
Women played a pivotal role in delivering Democrats control of the House in 2018 for the first time in eight years. Two years ago, Democrats had a record-high of 182 female nominees running for Congress.
And in 2020, a historic number of at least 130 Black women ran for the House and Senate, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. The record number of Black candidates, who are largely Democrats, are running at a time when the country faces a reckoning over race and ongoing protests around the country against police brutality and systemic racism.
Republican women, meanwhile, have seen their numbers dwindle in recent years. There are only 13 women currently in the House GOP conference since a handful of incumbents lost to Democratic candidates two years ago.
But House Republicans made a significant push to recruit a record number of female candidates, though they still face challenges – particularly financial – when trying to navigate and win contested primaries. This year, the GOP surpassed its previous record of female House nominees which was 53 in 2004, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
Women fell just short of the 2018 record set in the Senate, which had 23 nominees. This year, there are 20 female nominees for the Senate: 12 Democrats and eight Republicans. The current composition of women in the upper chamber includes nine Republicans and 17 Democrats.
The number could again change after Georgia’s special election for the Senate on Nov. 3. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat last year, is running for a full term and competing in a jungle primary which will feature all Senate candidates regardless of party affiliation.
The analysis from the Center for American Women and Politics also highlighted that there are 47 female nominees for statewide elected executive offices, including three for governor. Of that number, 28 are Democrats and 17 are Republicans. Two women who are running for governor of Puerto Rico are members of political parties in the U.S. territory.