washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Women Candidates Do Better as Democrats, But Party Still Lags Badly

The Center for American Women in Politics of Rutgers University provides the most up-to-date information about the gender of elected officials at the federal, state and local levels. Exploring their data yields this profile:

Women are 21 percent of the current U.S. Senate, with 21 senators, 16 of whom are Democrats and 5 are Republicans.

83 women are members of the House of Representatives, comprising 19.1% of the 435 members in 2017.  62 of them are Democrats and 21 are Republicans.

Five women, or 10 percent of the governors of the 50 states, including 2 Democrats and 3 Republicans serve as governors in 2017.

443 women serve as state senators, 22.5 percent of all state senators, incuding 253 Democrats and 176 Republicans

1399 women serve as state House/Assembly members, 25.9 percent of all House/Assembly members, including 859 Democrats and 532 Republicans.

292 women serve as Mayors of cities with over 30,000 population, or 20.7 percent of all mayors of cities this size. Party data for this subset is not avsailable. But a hefty majority of Mayors, especially in larger cities, are Democrats.

These statistics lead to the inescapable conclusion that Democrats have failed to recruit and elect enough women candidates, and the  track record of Republicans is an even greater embarrassment (with the exception of governorships and Lieutenant Governors). When the women’s rights movement began to catch fire in the 1970s, few thought that parity for women in politics would still be so far away, more than four decades later.

The top ten states in terms of the highest percentage of state legislators who are women includes:

Vermont (40.0%)
Nevada (39.7%)
Colorado (39.0%)
Arizona (38.9%)
Washington (36.7%)
Illinois (36.2%)
Maine (34.4%)
Oregon (33.3%)
Minnesota (32.3%)
Maryland (31.9%)

The worst include:

Wyoming (11.1%)
Oklahoma (12.8%)
West Virginia (13.4%)
South Carolina (13.5)
Mississippi (13.8%)
Alabama (14.3%)
Louisiana (15.3%)
Kentucky (16.7%)
Tennessee (16.7%)
North Dakota (18.4%)

Notice a blue state/red state pattern here? But Democrats clearly have a lot of work to do before they can lay claim to being the party that empowers women.

Among the organizations working to rectify the gender imbalance of America’s office-holders, Emerge America has set up state-wide affiliates in 18 states, which have had some impressive success in advancing the role of Democratic women as elected officials. The organization provides “in-depth, seven-month, 70-hour, training program providing aspiring female leaders with cutting-edge tools and training to run for elected office and elevate themselves in our political system.” and, “Since the first Emerge state was launched in 2002, the Emerge network has trained over 2,000 Democratic women to run for office to date…In the 2016 election, 70% of our 213 alumnae on the November ballot won their elections.”

Democratic women who are thinking of running for office can check out Emerge America’s resources right here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.