In the wake of the Republicans' midterm losses, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) announced that she planned to create a political action committee that would focus on recruiting Republican women to run for office. The Republican Party’s campaign arm seems less than thrilled about the idea, but Stefanik is unfazed.
And as data compiled by Kelly Dittmar of Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics show, the party’s record with female candidates in the most recent cycle was not exactly stellar.
The Center for American Women and Politics tracked data on the number of women running for office over the course of 2018, finding a surge in female candidates over past years. Most of those candidates, though, ran as Democrats. Dittmar’s data indicate that those Democratic women saw a lot more success.
Overall, just under 60 percent of men running as Democrats in the general election won, while just under 50 percent of Democratic women did. Among Republican women, only a quarter were successful.
But those figures include incumbents. Exclude incumbents and the gap between the parties widens. A little over a quarter of non-incumbent Democratic women won — and 3 percent of non-incumbent Republican women did.
Democratic women had the highest win percentage among non-incumbents of the four party-gender groups.
In fact, nearly 6 in 10 non-incumbent Democrats who won were women. Three percent of Republican non-incumbent winners were women.
We’ve looked at this before, but it bears mentioning again: The vast majority of Republicans elected to the House in 2018 were white men.
In the Senate, both of the non-incumbent Democratic winners were women.
Among gubernatorial candidates, women made up about as much a percentage of the non-incumbent pool of winners as the overall pool.
But, again, notice how much more heavily female the Democratic winners were than the Republican ones. Again, that disparity pales next to the gap in the House.
“We need to support those women earlier and learn the lessons of how effective the other side was in getting women through these competitive primaries,” Stefanik told Roll Call.
That, however, doesn’t address another problem: The shift among women, particularly white college-educated women, toward Democratic candidates. Perhaps having more women on the ballot will help reverse that trend. Or, perhaps, the Republican problem with women this year ran deeper than the candidates who were on the ballot.