The Washington Post

Over 25 years, only one state has elected at least its fair share of women to the U.S. House

Grading states on their rate of electing women to the U.S. House. (Eric Ostermeier, Smart Politics)
Grading states on their rate of electing women to House of Representatives. (Eric Ostermeier, Smart Politics)

The Equality State is living up to its name.

Wyoming is the only state in which ratio of women winning U.S. House elections over the past quarter-century is in line—in its case, well beyond in line—with the female percentage of the population in the state, according to a new study.

Since 1989, the state has held 13 elections for its single House seat, and the last 10 have all put a woman in office. The state’s current representative, Cynthia Lummis (R), was first elected in 2008, taking the seat over from Barbara Cubin, who had been first elected in 1994 and decided not to run in 2008. In 1869, Wyoming women became the first in the nation to get the right to vote, earning the state its nickname.

The finding that Wyoming is unique in its gender parity over the past quarter-century is the result of a study of the 5,325 U.S. House general and special elections held since 1989. The study was conducted by Smart Politics, a nonpartisan political news site authored by Eric Ostermeier, a research associate at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

While no other state has matched Wyoming’s parity over that time span, the total 79 women in the U.S. House today is three times as large as 25 years ago. Wyoming’s rate of electing women is more than 30 percentage points ahead of any other state, according to Ostermeier’s analysis. South Dakota has elected a woman to its single House seat in six of its 13 elections since 1989.

Grading on a curve, only three other states earned A’s from Ostermeier: Hawaii, with a 42.9 percent rate of electing women; Connecticut, with a 37.9 percent rate; and Nevada, with a 37.5 percent rate. California got an A-, although it is responsible for nearly a fourth of all seats won by a woman over the past 25 years.

States in the West led the way in electing women. Check out the full list and more analysis at Ostermeier’s post on his findings.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Niraj Chokshi · March 17, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.