Last week, after four states held congressional primaries, one of the key takeaways was that the results showed “strong wins for Democratic women.” This week, after four more states held similar contests, headlines read, “Another big primary night for Democratic women.”
It’s quickly becoming one of the most important political developments of the year. NBC News did a nice job yesterday crunching the numbers, noting that following Tuesday’s results, “[T]he total number of female House nominees is already up to 72 – with 62 of those being on the Democratic side.”
To put that in context, as recently as 1990, 69 women overall represented a major party in the general election when all the primary contests were said and done.
At 72 nominees so far, we’re past that number already after primaries in only about a dozen states, with the lion’s share left to come in June and August….. As of last night’s primaries, more than 40 percent of Democratic nominees so far are women, compared to less than 10 percent for Republicans.
Since it’s only May, the number of women nominees is likely to keep growing.
For those committed to feminist principles and greater representation for women in positions of power, this is an amazing development. It’s also historic: as the above chart from NBC News shows, American voters have never seen so many women win major-party congressional nominations.
The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, when women’s marches offered one of the most impressive displays of political activism in a generation, many questioned what the political impact might be. Sure, millions could take to the streets and make their voices heard, but what about the electoral consequences? Would anyone still care about the message behind the marches after the events were over?
The answer is increasingly obvious.
It’s a sea change, however, that appears to be leaving Trump’s party behind. While the number of Democratic women candidates is soaring, the number of Republican women candidates, at least for now, has actually declined.
The modern “gender gap” largely took root in the 1990s. There’s reason to think it’s going to get worse for the GOP before it gets better.