A Record Number of Congressional Races In The 2020 Election Will Be Between Women

Supermajority Education Fund

August 11, 2020

In 2018, 250 women were on the ballot for the midterm election, and a record 117 women were elected to Congress. Now it looks like the 2020 general election might shatter that record to pieces. According to data collected by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, the 2020 election will feature three races in the Senate and 37 races in the House in which women face off—a total of 40 all-women Congressional races. In 2018, 33 total races featured two female candidates, per Forbes

This high number of women running in this election cycle is worthy of celebration given that women still only make up 23.3 percent of the House and 26 percent of the Senate. It’s even more worthy of celebration amid an ongoing pandemic, in which states with female governors have had fewer deaths from COVID-19 than those with male leaders — a pattern that was also true globally.

Kelly Dittmar, director of research and a scholar at Center for American Women and Politics, told Supermajority News that having women engaged in addressing the pandemic from positions of political power is crucial. “Women are disproportionately and differently affected by COVID-19, particularly in terms of its economic impact, and as such, their voices should be heard in generating solutions,” she said. “Moreover, it matters that a full diversity of women’s experiences and viewpoints — whether along racial, class, ideological, or generational lines — are part of these conversations.”

Dittmar added that she expects the number of all-women contests in the general election to increase before the end of the current primary cycle. 

In addition to the record number of women facing off in elections this November, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden committed to selecting a woman as his running mate during a Democratic primary debate in March. “There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow,” he said at the time. He has yet to announce, but his former primary opponents Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are on the shortlist, as are a number of rising women politicians of color. 

“For so long, voters have expected that their political leaders meet the status quo — which has meant aligning in image, character, and expertise with stereotypes of masculinity and whiteness,” Dittmar added. “If voters look beyond the status quo and both demand and value something different in political leadership, we will see our political institutions change in ways that are more welcoming to the folks who have been excluded from and underrepresented in them for so long.”

While women in government have proven to be both effective and qualified leaders, they still face plenty of roadblocks within their positions in Congress. In 2018, Congress reformed the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, making it easier for congressional employees to report allegations of sexual harassment. But Congresswomen continue to face myriad forms of harassment.  Last month, Rep. Ted Yoho (FL-R) called Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch” in front of reporters. In a public response to Yoho’s remarks, she brought up the sexism that all women, including Congresswomen, still face in their professional lives. 

“Dehumanizing language is not new, and what we are seeing is that incidents like these are happening in a pattern,” she said. This is a pattern of incidents toward women and dehumanization of others…I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls that I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and worse to see that excuse and to see our Congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology and to accept silence as a form of acceptance. I could not let that stand.”