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Madam President?

Inaugural National Mall
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
 

 

Today, we watch as Barack Obama is sworn into his second term as President of the United States. Four years ago, Obama made history as the first African American to win a major party nomination for the presidency and, ultimately, take the oath of office. But President Obama wasn’t the only candidate to make history in 2008. Hillary Clinton won more votes (18,000) and more delegates (1010) than any unsuccessful presidential primary candidate in history. She made history as only the second woman to have her name formally placed into nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention, and left the campaign amidst speculation that she would run again in 2012 or 2016. That speculation has hardly died down and, despite Clinton’s own claims that her candidacy is unlikely, the most recent polls show Clinton as the most popular contender for the 2016 contest. As we celebrate the history being made today on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the women who have blazed a path toward the White House and the potential for a woman to take the oath of office in years to come. Two women became candidates for the presidency in the nineteenth century before they could even cast ballots themselves. Victoria Woodhull in 1872 and Belva Lockwood in 1884 were both nominated as presidential candidates by a group of reformers identifying themselves as the Equal Rights Party. As the first woman to practice law in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Lockwood knew what it felt like to stand alone and did so again in her second presidential bid in 1888. It wasn’t until 1964, 76 years after Lockwood’s second bid, that Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith from Maine became the first female candidate to have her name placed in nomination for president at a major party convention, winning twenty-seven delegate votes from three states. Eight years later, in 1972, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm of New York, the first African American woman elected to Congress, became the first woman and the first African American to have her name placed in nomination for the presidency at a Democratic National Convention, winning 151.95 delegate votes.

Women PresCandidates

Between 1987 and 2003, three women – Democrat Pat Schroeder (1987), Republican Elizabeth Dole (1999), and Democrat Carol Moseley Braun (2003) - put their names forward as presidential contenders, but all stepped off the trail before the first primary votes were cast. In 2012, Republican Michele Bachmann left the campaign trail 24 hours after placing sixth in the first Republican primary. In 2007, Ruth B. Mandel described the legacy of the women who ran for presidency in this way:

They made a claim on public awareness by attaching voices and living images of accomplished woman leaders to the idea that one day a woman could conceivably be president. Their actions made the idea less outrageous to conceive.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton echoed this sentiment as she conceded the Democratic primary, telling the crowd,

You can be so proud, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories, unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the president of the United States. And that is truly remarkable.

Speculation has already begun about who will run, and who can win, the presidency in 2016. Some women, most notably Hillary Clinton, are among the names being floated as serious contenders. Still, the presidency remains arguably the most masculine office in the land – presenting obstacles well-understood by the women who have run. As she fought to allow women to argue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court over a century ago, Belva Lockwood said, “The glory of each generation is to make its own precedents.” While women have (slowly) worked to establish a precedent of women running for major party presidential nominations, our generation has yet to set a precedent of a female commander-in-chief. So as we celebrate the political history made today, let us consider the political history women have left to make.  

What role will women play in the legislative debate over gun control?

Earlier this week, a colleague was speaking to a community group about women in the 2012 elections and CAWP’s work to increase women’s political representation. The first question she was asked, in light of the tragedy that struck Newtown, Connecticut just days earlier, was what role women in office would play in the ensuing legislative debate over gun control. Where do the current female members of Congress stand on gun issues? And does the increased number of women in office make it more (or less) likely that anti-gun measures will pass? There are no concrete answers to these questions, as “gun control” encompasses myriad types of reforms and the women in congress do not represent a unified bloc on this or any issue.  But looking to history might be helpful to formulating hypotheses about what role women might play if gun control is, in fact, put on the legislative agenda. In 1994, Congress passed a ten-year assault weapons ban (AWB) under a title of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (HR 3355) by a vote of 235 to 195. At the time, there were 54 women in Congress – just 10% representation. Despite these numbers, women played a prominent role in the 1994 ban. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was the architect and chief sponsor of the AWB and worked tirelessly to get enough votes to attach it to the Senate version of the crime bill. In the House, women were disproportionately represented among the members whipping the vote to be sure that the bill included the ban. House Vote HR 3355

When it came to a vote, 83% of the women in the House, and all but one woman in the Senate, voted in favor of the assault weapons ban; men were more evenly split, with 50% of men in the House and 59% of men in the Senate voting for the ban. Partisanship plays an important role in votes on this issue, but women in both parties were more likely to vote for the ban than were their maleSenate Vote HR3355 counterparts (see charts). Much has changed since 1994. Women have nearly doubled their representation in Congress – when the 113th Congress begins on January 3rd, women will take 18% (or 98) of the House and Senate seats. With that increase comes greater regional, racial, and ideological diversity among the women who serve. Probably most different is the increased conservatism among the Republican women who now serve, which may make it harder than it was 18 years ago to find bipartisan support for new restrictions on gun ownership. Because there have been so few gun control votes in recent years, one of the only indicators we have of potential support for such legislation is  National Rifle Association (NRA) ratings. Based on grades given to members of the 113th Congress, women represent a disproportionate percentage of the House (34%) and Senate (37%) members labeled as anti-gun by the NRA. However, the NRA grades all 20 Republican women in the House and 3 of 4 female Republican senators as strongly pro-gun; one female House Democrat and one Democratic woman in the Senate are also given “A” grades by the gun lobby. The context (post-Newtown) and content (e.g. only targeting assault weapons) of any pending legislative debate matters and may yield votes that do not mirror these particular ratings, but only time will tell. What we do know for now is that Senator Feinstein has vowed to re-introduce an updated assault weapons ban when the congressional session opens in January and, if history is any guide, will fight furiously to garner support in both chambers. Some pro-gun members have already said they would be open to restrictions on military-grade weapons, and House Democrat Carolyn McCarthy (NY), a long-time anti-gun advocate, has vowed she will give “full force” to reform efforts and will “embarrass” President Obama if he does not stay true to his promise of policy change. It’s no surprise that these two women will be leading the charge to respond to recent gun tragedies. Both women know intimately the horrors of gun violence and have used personal tragedies to fuel policy priorities. Moreover, they represent constituencies beyond their geographic borders, speaking on behalf of women in the electorate who – based on yesterday’s Pew Poll - are significantly more likely than men to prioritize gun control over gun rights. It will take both men and women at all levels to change our nation’s policies around guns, and having more women in Congress does not guarantee movement in either direction – holding firm on rights or putting more restrictions in place. But, women – as politicians, advocates, and citizens - will be essential players in this national debate.

What’s the hold-up? Women’s Delayed Entry into Political Office

Just one week after 19 new women were elected to the United States House of Representatives, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held a press conference with the current caucus of Democratic women members to announce that she would once again put her name forward for the Democrat’s top spot in the House. Raising some eyebrows and eliciting heckles from the cadre of women on the stage, journalist Luke Russert suggested that her decision to stay on posed obstacles to leadership for younger members. After noting that the same question is never asked of men in leadership, the 72 year-old mother of five and grandmother of eight pointed to the gendered dimension of members’ ages:

"I knew that my male colleagues...had a jump on me because they didn't have children to stay home [with]. …You got to take off about 14 years from me because I was home raising a family."

Pelosi’s comments raise important questions to consider for today’s class of women officeholders. As has been historically true, do women enter office at later ages than their male counterparts? Are they more likely to wait until their children are older to run and serve? And, finally, what does this mean for increasing women’s representation? Let’s take a look at the newly sworn-in 113th House of Representatives. The average age of all members is about 56 years old, but the key statistic of interest for these questions is the average age at which members took office. In the 113th, the average age of taking office is just over 47 years old, but there is a significant difference between male and female members: women’s average age of entering the House is 50.2 years old and men average 46.7 years old upon taking their congressional oath of office. While not the 14-year expanse cited by Pelosi, this data demonstrates that women continue to enter office – in this case, congressional office – later than their male colleagues, which has implications for institutional seniority and leadership posts. When we include all members into these calculations, some of the most gender-significant age divides – those tied to childbearing and childrearing – may be disguised. Another cut at the congressional membership shows that about 19% of female members in the 113th took office at age 40 or under, compared to 25% of male members. Of the 83 freshman members (64 male, 19 female), 32 men and only 1 woman currently have children under age 18. Put more clearly, half of the new male members come to Washington, DC while their children are still at home and all but one of the new female members either have no children or have adult children. In survey responses, female state legislators are significantly more likely than their male colleagues to say that their decision to run for office was influenced by their children being “old enough.” Not only does this finding have implications for women who start their political career in the state legislatures before heading to Congress, but it also echoes Leader Pelosi’s sentiment regarding the unique responsibilities and considerations that women confront in making the decision to enter public office. Children and families are not the sole source of delay for women. Women’s motivations for office are more likely to emerge from issue involvement over time rather than a long-time desire to hold office, which is more common among men. Moreover, women continue to need greater encouragement to run for office, and often feel the need to gather greater experience and/or training than their male peers. Regardless of the cause for delay, women’s later entry into office at both the state legislative and congressional levels can have real implications for women’s institutional power, political advancement, and ambition and/or ability to seek higher office. At her November press conference, Leader Pelosi expressed hope for the next generation of women leaders, saying, “I want women to be here in greater numbers at an earlier age so that their seniority would start to count much sooner.” To meet that desire, more will need to be done to both encourage and enable young women to run for office. A nudge from the first female Speaker of the House is probably not a bad place to start.

Woman vs. Woman Races: Gender Exclusivity for Gender Inclusivity?

Even before odd-year elections in states like NJ and VA are over, we’re looking ahead to the 2014 midterm elections for opportunities to increase women’s representation. In a year when 36 states will hold gubernatorial elections and another 32 states will elect (or re-elect) U.S. Senators, will women move forward on the path toward political parity? It’s too early to predict electoral outcomes, but CAWP is keeping track of women who have put their names forward as potential candidates for statewide or federal office. By looking at these early lists, we can get an initial sense of how many and where women are running, and how the pattern compares to candidate statistics at this point in previous cycles. Over the next year, we will report on trends we spot, interesting facts we find, or news you can use about women in the 2014 election in our news alerts and on this blog. This week, we’re looking at woman vs. woman races. How many have we had? Do we expect any women-exclusive races in 2014? And what’s the political significance of such races? Based on our latest counts, women are potential challengers to three of the four incumbent women senators up for re-election in 2014. Women are also running in both major party primaries for open Senate seats in Georgia (Democrat Michelle Nunn and former Republican Secretary of State Karen Handel) and West Virginia (Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant).  No women have yet emerged to challenge the four incumbent women governors up for re-election next year, but many women have put their names forward as potential gubernatorial contenders in Florida, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Finally, as of today, women are running for both major party nominations in eight U.S. House districts, and another six districts have more than one woman running in either party’s primary. Historically, woman vs. woman races for federal and statewide offices have been very rare. Of all general election U.S. Senate races to date, only 12 have pitted a Democratic woman against a Republican woman, and three of those contests occurred in 2012 alone. Women have faced each other in only four gubernatorial races in U.S. history, with two of those races in 2010 (in Oklahoma and New Mexico). Finally, while there have been 134 woman vs. woman elections for U.S. House seats over time, these represent less than a third of House elections held in any single year. Some might argue that woman vs. woman races are not necessarily a sign of progress, that pitting women against women could actually be harmful to women’s representation, or that gender exclusivity for men or women is an unjust goal. Each of these arguments has merit and is worthy of greater debate. However, it is hard to say that increasing evidence of woman vs. woman races does not signal at least some progress.  At the least, woman vs. woman races reflect an increased willingness among women to run for the highest levels of elected office – and a willingness among parties and voters to elect them.

And for those who fear gender exclusivity of any stripe, let’s look at recent electoral history. Over 60% of general election U.S. House races in the past decade have been all-male contests, and 85% of uncontested candidates have been men.

About two-thirds of general election races for the U.S. Senate have been between two male candidates, and 80 of 106 gubernatorial races between 2004 and 2012 had no women. In contrast, about 2% of U.S. House races, 4% of U.S. Senate races, and less than 2% of gubernatorial contests in the past decade have been all-female.  And of course, men-only races at each of these levels of office only increase the further back we look.

Gender exclusivity in electoral contests should not be a goal, but it has been a reality for male candidates for far too long. For women to increase their political representation, they need to be more present as candidates. And if woman vs. woman races are a surefire way to get more women into office, then maybe an increase in gender exclusivity for women candidates actually means greater gender inclusivity in today’s politics.

Would women have shut down the shutdown?

A recent MSNBC article poses the question that has seeped into multiple debates and discussions over the current government shutdown: would we be here today if more women were in Congress? Columnists Khimm and Taylor highlight the efforts by Republican and Democratic women senators to bring members together and toward a solution to both re-open the government and address the debt ceiling; from potluck dinners and pizza parties to the Collins proposal, they note women’s willingness and ability to use personal relationships for political problem-solving. Beyond the anecdotal evidence from the past few weeks, why else might we expect that more women in office might help to avert or assuage political gridlock? 1. Women enter office motivated to get things done. In CAWP’s latest survey of state legislators, women reported that their top motivation to run for office was a concern about one or two public policy issues. The top motivation for male legislators, however, was a longstanding desire to be involved in politics. As a result, women come into office with a greater desire for policy achievements than political wins. 2. Women lead differently than men. Research has shown that women often bring more inclusive, democratic, and collaborative styles of leadership to both public and private sectors.[1] In politics and government, multiple studies show that women look to facilitate – rather than control – discussion,  and they approach policymaking in a less confrontational way than their male counterparts.[2] One study of mayors takes a particular look at the budgeting process. Weikart et al. (2006) found female mayors were far more willing than male mayors to change the budget process, be more inclusive, and seek broader participation in budget debates. Women mayors were also more willing to admit to fiscal problems and discuss solutions to fix them. 3. Women legislators are more responsive to their constituents. Multiple studies show that women legislators spend more time engaging and responding to constituents, providing greater access by citizens to the legislative process.[3] In a setting where 91 percent of the electorate sees the shutdown as a serious problem, this attention to constituent demands is particularly important to shaping members’ willingness to compromise and seek solutions. 4. Women have built strong bipartisan relationships amidst hyper-partisanship. When the number of women in the U.S. Senate reached 20 in January 2013, Diane Sawyer sat with the current class of women senators and discussed how their ability to work across party lines might be related to their efforts to build personal relationships. Known for their regularly-scheduled dinners together, the women in the Senate have translated personal friendships into professional collaboration on issues like sexual assault in the military, domestic energy, and – most recently – the federal budget. This cross-aisle collaboration is not new to women in Congress. For example, it was a bipartisan group of women members who fought the National Institutes of Health to include women in clinical research trials in the early 1990s. While women – like men – differ on many issues, their experience working together on some issues provides a foundation upon which they can productively dialogue on the issues most important today. As the government shutdown appears to be nearing its end, it has raised a number of questions about how we might avert a repeat performance. Getting more women elected might just be a start.
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[3] Beck (2001); Carey, Neimi, and Powell (1998); Epstein, Neimi, and Powell (2005); CAWP (2001) also finds that men and women state legislators believe that women legislators provide increased access to the legislature for traditionally disadvantaged groups in American society, such as racial and ethnic minorities and the economically disadvantaged.

Women Going into the Family Business...of Politics

The lines of political succession for women in Congress began, in many cases, through marriage. Of the first ten women to serve in the U.S. Senate, five were appointed to fill vacancies left by their deceased husbands. In the U.S. House, 25 of the first 60 women to serve (from 1923 to 1963) were widows who filled their husband’s seats. However, in the past 50 years, only 18 women (4 Senate, 14 House) have entered Congress as a result of their husbands’ deaths. But political kinship is far from dead, and this year’s female candidates for the U.S. Senate might demonstrate that the dynastic politics we have traditionally seen among generations of political men may now provide political opportunities for women. Of the 29 women who have put their names forward as U.S. Senate candidates in 2014, at least 5 are political daughters-turned-politicians. In Georgia, Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn is the daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA). Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) is the daughter of Jerry Lundergan, a former Kentucky Democratic chairman and state representative, and Charlotte Lundergan, Kentucky’s current Democratic National Committeewoman. In West Virginia, Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito (R) follows in the political footsteps of her father, Arch Alfred Moore, Jr., who served three terms as West Virginia’s governor. Until recently, Liz Cheney (R) was also among the class of political daughters waging a Senate bid in 2014.politicaldaughters These women join two incumbent women senators running for re-election with political family ties. Both of Senator Susan Collins’ (R-ME) parents - Patricia R. and Donald F. Collins, served as mayor of Caribou, Maine, and her father went on to serve in both houses of the Maine legislature. Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) father, Maurice "Moon" Landrieu's, was the popular Mayor of New Orleans from 1970-1978 before serving in President Carter’s administration and being appointed as a federal judge. Her brother, Mitch Landrieu, took on his father’s previous post as Mayor in 2010, after serving as Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor. Thus, political daughters are not new to Congress. Four more women senators have political fathers. In December 2002, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was the first daughter to be appointed to her father’s seat (by her father), which he had vacated after being elected governor of Alaska. Both Senator McCaskill’s (D-MO) and Senator Fischer’s (R-NE) fathers served in statewide office, and Senator Cantwell’s (D-WA) father was elected to both local and state legislative office. Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is probably the most well-known political daughter in the House of Representatives. Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., was the Mayor of Baltimore and a Democratic Congressman representing the state of Maryland. As more women enter office, the likelihood of passing the mantle from mother to daughter also grows. Of the current women Senators, at least two have mothers who were elected officials; as mentioned, Senator Collins’ mother served as mayor, and Senator McCaskill’s mother was the first woman elected to the Columbia, MO city council.[1] In the House, at least five women followed in the political footsteps of their mothers, who served in statewide, state legislative, and local offices.[2] And there’s already some sign that there will be more. At a December 2012 forum at Saint Anselm College, Senator Kelly Ayotte shared this exchange with her 8-year old daughter Kate:
“She came home one day and said, ‘Mom, I don’t want you to run for president.’ I said, ‘Kate, that’s not going to happen. Why are you asking me this?’ She said, ‘You know what, Mom? Because I want to be the first woman president.’”
With the dearth of women at KellyAyotteSwearingInall levels of political office, we can’t count on political moms or dads to be the sole motivators  for women to run. Nor would we want to discourage the innumerable qualified women from running because they were not born into political access or privilege. However, as research shows, we need to do better in filling the pipeline of potential women candidates, and that means looking at all options and pathways to office, including being engaged with and inspired by parents who participate in politics – whether as elected officials, advocates, or engaged citizens. Research shows that familial socialization vís a vís politics can increase women’s likelihood of considering running for office later in life, so parental political engagement in any capacity can foster an environment in which more daughters are willing to run. The history of political kinship in American politics is long, and the Kennedys are likely the clearest example of an American political dynasty. In fact, a Kennedy has served in the U.S. Congress in all but two of the last 67 years.  Of all of the Kennedys who have served in elected office since 1892, however, only one has been a woman. In 1995, Robert Kennedy’s daughter, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, became lieutenant governor of Maryland and the first Kennedy woman to hold an elected office.[3]  Townsend is not the first, but is now among a growing class of women who have disrupted the patrilineal threads of political kinship. And, who knows, we may soon be talking about Chelsea, Malia, Sasha, or Kate among the newest generation of political daughters!


[1] Senator Claire McCaskill’s mother went on to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
[2] Representative Terri Sewell’s (D-AL) mother was on the city council. Representative Rosa DeLauro’s (D-CT) mother was the longest-serving member of the New Haven Board of Alderman. Representative Kathy Castor’s (D-FL) mother was elected statewide as Florida’s Education Commissioner. Representative Ann McLane Kuster’s (D-NH) mother served in the New Hampshire State Senate. Representative Yvette Clarke’s (D-NY) mother served on the New York City Council and the two were the first mother to daughter succession in the Council’s history.
[3] Caroline Kennedy was appointed as Ambassador to Japan in November 2013.

#WomenRun2014: Statewide Elected Executive Office Outlook

Today we focus on the outlook for women seeking statewide elected executive offices other than governor. Candidates and Nominees Lieutenant Governor Forty-two (21D, 21R) women filed to run for lieutenant governor in 24 states in 2014.[i] The record number of women filing for lieutenant governor is 46 (25D, 19R, 1ACP, 1Ind),[ii] set in 1994. This year, 24 (15D, 9R) women won their primaries, including five (1D, 4R) incumbents running for re-election. Thirteen (10D, 3R) women are running as challengers and 6 (4D, 2R) women are running for open seats. The record for women nominees for lieutenant governor is 29 (14D, 13R, 1ACP, 1Ind), also set in 1994. LGCandsandNominees LGNomineesbyPartyThree states – Connecticut, Iowa, and Ohio – have woman-versus-woman general election contests for lieutenant governor this year. Six (5D, 1R) women of color are among the 24 female candidates for lieutenant governor in 2014. Four Latinas (3D, 1R) are nominees for lieutenant governor: Annette Tadeo (D-FL); Evelyn Sanguinetti (R-IL); Lucy Flores (D-NV); and Leticia Van de Putte (D-TX).  One Black woman, Connie Stokes, is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Georgia. New Mexico’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, Debra Haaland, is Native American. Three (2D, 1R) other women of color ran for lieutenant governor this cycle but lost their primaries. Additional Statewide Elected Executive Offices 101 (55D, 46R) women filed to run for statewide elected executive offices other than governor and lieutenant governor in 2014. Seventy-one (46D, 25R) women won their primaries, including 17 (8D, 9R) incumbents running for re-election. Twenty-one (19D, 2R) women are running as challengers and 33 (19D, 14R) women are running for open seats. Twenty (14D, 6R) women are running for secretary of state, 12 (8D, 4R) for attorney general, 11 (6D, 5R) for state auditor, 10 (9D, 1R) for state treasurer, and 7 (2D, 5R) for their states’ top education posts. SEEONomineesbyOfficeThere are nine woman-versus-woman general election contests for statewide elective executive offices this year, including four contests for secretary of state (IN, NM, NV, and SD), two contests for state auditor (AR and MA), two contests for state comptroller/controller (IL and CA), and Idaho’s race for superintendent of public instruction. Based on preliminary counts, at least 24 of the 101 women who filed for statewide elected executive posts are women of color, including at least 14 women of color who won nominations . Ten (10D) Black women, two (1D, 1R) Latinas, one (1D) Asian American woman, and one (1D) multi-racial woman are nominees.[iii] Women in Statewide Elected Executive Office 2015 Lieutenant Governors Eleven (5D, 6R) women currently serve as lieutenant governors. Three (3D) incumbents are not running again in 2014; Sheila Simon (D-IL) and Yvonne Solon (DFL-MN) chose not to seek re-election and Elizabeth Roberts (D-RI) is term-limited. Two (2R) incumbent women lieutenant governors are not up for re-election this year: Sue Ellspermann (R-IN) and Kim Guadagno (R-NJ). Cook Political Report ratings are available for races including 19 of the 24 female lieutenant governor nominees this year because they are elected on tickets with the gubernatorial nominees. Among those 19 contenders, three (1D, 2R) are in races deemed solid or likely to favor candidates of their party and six (6D) are in races deemed solid or likely to favor candidates of the opposing party. Eight female nominees (3D, 5R) are in races deemed toss-ups by Cook, and the remaining two (2D) lieutenant governor nominees are in races leaning in their favor (1D) or against them (1D). LGRatingsFive (3D, 2R) of the women nominees for lieutenant governor are running in states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. In those races, predictions of electoral success are harder to make. These races include three (3D) of the six women of color nominees for lieutenant governor this year: Connie Stokes (D-GA), Lucy Flores (D-NV), and Leticia Van de Putte (D-TX). Annette Tadeo (D-FL) and Evelyn Sanguinetti (R-IL), both sharing tickets with their gubernatorial nominees, are in races deemed as toss-ups by Cook, and Debra Haaland (D-NM) faces an uphill climb with Gary King as Democratic challengers to the Republican incumbents. Since 1998, the largest number of women to serve simultaneously as lieutenant governors has been 19. The maximum number of female winners this year would be 24 if women won all toss-up and long-shot races. Due to the competitiveness of these races, it remains unclear whether we will exceed even the number of women lieutenant governors currently serving (11), let alone the most recent high (19). LGs20042014Additional Statewide Elected Executive Offices Fifty-six (29D, 27R) women currently serve in statewide elected executive offices other than governor or lieutenant governor. Twenty-one of those women are not up for re-election this year and will remain in office in 2015. Seventeen of those incumbents are nominees again this year. Since 1998, the greatest number of female statewide elected executive officials (not including governors and lieutenant governors) serving simultaneously was 70 in 2000. Because polling is not readily available in the 62 races with women candidates, we make no predictions of electoral outcomes in these races. SEEO20042014What to Watch on Election Day In addition to tracking the numbers of women winning statewide elected executive offices on Election Day, we will be watching these situations where women have the potential to make history:
  • Latinas are running for lieutenant governor this year in FL, IL, NV, and TX. Since no Latina has ever served as lieutenant governor in any state, a win by any of the four would make history.  To date, only 9 Latinas have ever held statewide elected executive offices.
  • Five Black women, all Democrats, are running for statewide elected executive offices in Georgia, each with the potential to make history as the first Black woman to hold a statewide elected executive post in that state.[iv] To date, only 10 Black women have ever held statewide elected executive offices in any state.
  • If elected in New Mexico, lieutenant governor candidate Debra Haaland (D) would be the first Native American woman elected lieutenant governor and the second Native American woman elected to a statewide elected executive office nationwide.
  • If elected in Massachusetts, Maura Healey (D) would be the first openly LGBT attorney general in the nation.
  • These statewide elected executive office candidates would be the first women in their states to hold the positions they are seeking:
    • Liz Johnson (D), GA insurance commissioner
    • Robbin Shipp (D), GA labor commissioner
    • Valerie Wilson (D), GA state school superintendent
    • Janet Stewart (D), NE attorney general
    • Holli High Woodings (D), ID secretary of state
    • Ginny Deerin (D), SC secretary of state


[i] Seven states, including six with gubernatorial elections this year, do not have lieutenant governors.
[ii] ACP is A Connecticut Party, a third party in that state that is included here because there was a governor from that party at the time.
[iii] Kamala Harris (D-CA) identifies as Black and Asian Pacific Islander. CAWP attempts to verify all candidates’ race or ethnicity, but is limited by whether or not candidates return our request for identification and whether or not public information about the candidate’s identity is available.
[iv] Doreen Carter (secretary of state), Liz Johnson (insurance commissioner), Robbin Shipp (labor commissioner), Connie Stokes (lieutenant governor), Valerie Wilson (state school superintendent)  

#WomenRun2014: State Legislatures Outlook

Today we focus on the outlook for women running in state legislative races. The detail and predictive value of our data are limited at this level due to the high number of candidates and races, but we do know that we enter Election Day without a record-level number of female state legislative candidates. State Legislative Nominees In 2014, 2,517 (1,621D, 888R, 7NP, 1I) women are state legislative nominees in the 46 states holding state legislative elections.[1] Two hundred and sixty-nine (163D, 99R, 7NP) additional women are holdovers who will continue to serve in 2015. The record number of women nominees for state legislative seats is 2,537 (1,616D, 908R, 6NP, 7Prg), set in 2010 – another year in which 46 states held state legislative elections.[2] While slightly fewer women are nominees this year, one explanation may be that fewer seats are at stake. Eighty seven state legislative chambers hold elections on Tuesday, compared with 88 chambers for which elections in the fall of 2010. Minnesota’s state senate holds elections only in years ending in 0, 2, and 6. As a result, there are 38 fewer female state legislative nominees in Minnesota in 2014 (75) than in 2010 (113).  In other states, state senate elections reflect staggered terms that may influence the competitiveness of seats available (and thus number of candidates) across different cycles. StLegNomineesWinnersThis year, 453 (291D, 154R, 7NP, 1I) women are nominees for state senate seats and 2,064 (1,329D, 735R) are nominees for state house seats.
Of the 2,517 women nominees running this year, 1,243, or 49.4%, are incumbents. Seven hundred and fourteen women, or 28.4%, are running as challengers, and 558 women, or 22.2%, are running in open seat contests. Similarly, 51.2% of all female House nominees are running as incumbents. Among female state senate nominees, 41.1% are incumbents, 32.5% are running as challengers, and 26% are running in open seat contests. The number of Democratic women state legislative nominees in 2014 (1,621) is the greatest in the past decade, though just five more women are Democratic nominees this year than were on the ballot in 2010 (1,616). Twenty more Republican women were state legislative nominees in 2010 (908) than will be on the ballot this year (888). Despite these slight differences, the overall trend between and across parties is static, as shown by the relatively flat lines in the graphs above and below. StLegNomineesbyParty A complete list of nominees by state and party is available on CAWP’s Election Watch 2014. Women in State Legislatures 2015 Today, 1,789 (1,137D, 637R, 10NP, 1I, 4Prg) women serve in state legislatures, including 411 (258D, 142R, 10NP) female state senators and 1,378 (879D, 495R, 4Prg) female members of state houses. They represent 24.2% of all 7383 state legislators nationwide. The percentage of women state legislators has remained nearly flat over the past two decades, as is evident in the graph below. As the chart above shows, women’s state legislative representation increases as the number of women nominees rises. Without a significant jump in the number of women nominees this year, it is unlikely that we will see a significant departure from the pattern of stagnation in the number of women officeholders at the state legislative level in 2015. PercentWomenStLegCurrently, 375 (347D, 27R, 1NP) women state legislators, or 21% of all women legislators, are women of color. Because we are unable to track state legislative candidate race prior to Election Day, we do not know the racial identification and breakdown of women nominees this year. CAWP will be tracking the numbers of women winning state legislative seats as results come in and are finalized to determine how women fare nationally, by chamber, by state, and by party. We will monitor trends in women’s representation as well as watch for shifts in the balance of partisan power in state legislative chambers, especially where women hold top leadership positions. For the latest numbers and information about women running for office in 2014, visit CAWP’s Election Watch 2014 and check out our next post, reporting on women running for statewide elected executive offices in the 2014 elections. You can also follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #WomenRun2014.
[1] No state legislative elections will be held this year in LA, MS, NJ, and VA.
[2] Because AL and MD hold state legislative elections every four years and LA, MS, NJ, and VA hold state legislative elections in odd-numbered years, only 44 states held legislative elections in 2012.

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