The number of women who are planning to run for Congress or are already running in 2018 is already at an all-time high.
Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics says there are 369 potential women candidates in the House and 41 potential women candidates for the Senate next year. That’s an astonishing number, and the number of women challenging incumbents next year is almost four times what it was in 2015.
The New York Times reports Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton and the backlash against sexual harassment are driving the surge in women running for Congress next year.
“It was Donald Trump and the way that he sort of embraced masculinity, but even more specifically, misogyny, in his rhetoric and behavior,” said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics. “To make a statement against that and the policies he espoused sort of pushed them over the edge to not just think about running, but to put their names out there.”
The number of male candidates has also increased, she said, so the proportion of female candidates has not ballooned. But many of those women are running as challengers, meaning that if they win, they would substantially alter the balance of power in statehouses and Congress.
The revelations about sexual assault and harassment have only added to the power of the moment. “Look, these instances, by and large, almost entirely, are being perpetrated by men, and there is something to say here about the value of having women in institutions like Congress to challenge the dominance of masculinity,” Ms. Dittmar said.
Emily’s List, the political action committee that backs pro-choice female candidates, says the number of women who reached out to them about running for political office topped 22,000 since Trump’s election. Before the 2016 election, just 1,000 women contacted the PAC about running.