Introducing CAWP’s New Candidate Summaries and Databases


The Center for American Women and Politics recently rolled out newly revamped historical candidate summaries that provide information on women candidates at the state legislative, statewide elected executive, and congressional levels from 1990 to the present. They include interactive data visualizations and important summary information on both filed candidates and nominees. In addition to these summaries, CAWP’s historical candidate databases have been made public. Scholars, journalists, and anyone with an interest in women in politics now have direct access to databases of women candidates for congressional and statewide elected executive, as well as state legislative nominees. Each candidate database has a corresponding user’s guide and codebook that contains information on data collection, variable coding, and data inclusion rules.

Here are just a few ways that both the candidate summaries and the databases can shed light on the evolution of women in politics:

1. Trends Over Time

One of the most useful features of both the candidate summaries and the databases is that these resources can reveal trends in the number of women candidates and nominees over time. For example, data from the congressional, statewide elected executive, and state legislative databases illuminate the long-term trends in filed candidates and nominees at various levels of office:



Another convenient feature of the candidate summaries is the Records Tracker – a comparison of that particular election year’s numbers with the previous year and the record (to that point in time) for that level of office. For example, the 2018 Senate Records Tracker includes the number of filed candidates and nominees for the U.S. Senate in 2018, those same data points for the 2016 election, as well as the record at the time of the 2018 election. These trackers help identify years that were particularly ground-breaking for women candidates.



2. State-by-State Information

The candidate summaries break down the data by level of office, seat status, and primary/general winners and losers. Furthermore, we provide a map of the U.S. for each level of office so you can see exactly where women candidates of each party ran in both the primary and general elections. We break up these maps by primary and general election, as well as by party. Scrolling over each state reveals whether the race was an open-seat contest or included an incumbent candidate. Below are the maps that indicate which states and congressional districts had women running for the Senate and the House in 2018:




3. Year-by-Year Candidate Lists

In addition to the complete historical candidate databases, CAWP has also made year-by-year candidate lists available in an Excel format. Under each election year on the Past Candidate and Election Information Page, you will find easily downloadable files that include lists of the women congressional and statewide executive candidates, as well as state legislative nominees that ran in that particular year.

For almost fifty years, CAWP has been a leading source of scholarly research and current data on women’s political participation in the United States. These detailed and interactive historical candidate summaries and databases are just some of CAWP’s resources that help us understand women in American politics in both the present and the past. This is particularly salient now as we mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification and adoption of the 19th Amendment, which extended the right to vote to women, although notably, it would be several decades before all women, including women of color, would be able to exercise the right to vote. Providing this historical context is also important as we watch women candidates break records in the 2020 election.  

Check out this new resource on the Past Candidate and Election Information Page on CAWP’s website.

Claire Gothreau is a Research Associate at the Center for American Women and Politics. She works on data collection, management, and analysis at CAWP. She received her Ph.D. from Temple University in 2019. At Temple, she was the Assistant Director of the Behavioral Foundations Lab where she specialized in the collection of physiological data. Dr. Gothreau’s research interests are in American politics with a focus on gender, political psychology, and experimental methodology. She is also interested in the intersection of politics, psychophysiology, and human behavior. Her most recent work explores how objectification impacts women’s political engagement and perceptions of women political candidates.