The Slatest

Democratic Women Dominated on Tuesday, Again

A woman holds up a sign at First Ward Park during the Remarchable Women rally in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 20, 2018, marking the one-year anniversary of the Women's March. / AFP PHOTO / Logan Cyrus        (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman holds up a sign during the “Remarchable Women” rally in North Carolina earlier this year. LOGAN CYRUS/Getty Images

Women keep winning. On Tuesday night, nearly two-thirds of the women running in congressional primaries won their nomination. Overall, female candidates snagged 27 of the 81 major party House nominations that were up for grabs in Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia. That continues a trend that began with the nation’s first primary in Texas this year and then seemed to stall a bit in the second, in Illinois later that same month.

The numbers are particularly promising for Democrats, who once again nominated more women on Tuesday than the GOP and who are hoping that the historic influx of female candidates—many of whom were motivated by their opposition to Donald Trump, and by the larger #MeToo movement—will help the party retake control of the House this fall.

According to Gender Watch 2018, a project of the nonpartisan Center for American Women and Politics, 22 of the 31 women running in a House Democratic primary on Tuesday won the nomination. That means women will make up a majority of the party’s 40 congressional nominees in those states. In the Republican primaries, five of the 12 women running won their races, which means only about one-eighth of the party’s candidates in those states will be women.

But the preponderance of female nominees won’t necessarily change the current dynamic in the House, where there are four men for every woman. Seven of the women nominated on Tuesday are already House members, and 16 of the nominees will need to upset an incumbent, with 12 of those races tilted heavily toward the opposing party. Some of those Democratic women could face additional headwinds as they try to appeal to conservative-leaning electorates who appear less open to female leaders, and most of them will face districts that are drawn to thwart their chances.

Take North Carolina, where four of the Democratic nominees must beat incumbents in districts gerrymandered against them. Only one is currently considered competitive by the Cook Political Report: philanthropist Kathy Manning. Manning coasted to the Democratic nomination in the state’s 13th District over long-haul truck driver Adam Coker, who narrowly missed out on his party’s nomination two years ago. Democrats are hoping Manning can oust first-term Rep. Ted Budd in a potentially crucial race this fall. But despite her considerable fundraising advantage, Manning will still be running uphill in a district that Budd won by 12 percentage points in 2016 and Donald Trump won by 9 points.

It’s a similar story in Ohio, where six Democratic women will try to take down GOP incumbents this fall, including businesswoman Theresa Gasper, who easily beat out two men for the Democratic nomination in the state’s 10th District, and attorney Betsy Rader, who ran unopposed in the 14th. Cook Political Report doesn’t yet rate either race as competitive, though Gasper and Rader may have a better shot than the other four women, who are running in solidly red districts. Likewise in Indiana, where seven women won their nominations but where the five nonincumbents are all Democrats competing in solidly Republican districts.

West Virginia appears promising for a female candidate—just not a Democratic one. The two Democratic women who won nominations on Tuesday are up against incumbents in safe districts. But the lone female Republican nominee, state Delegate Carol Miller, has a much better hand. She is running to replace GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins, who opted to run for the Senate instead of another term in the House. Miller emerged from a crowded Republican field—that included five men—to snag the nomination in the state’s 3rd District on Tuesday and is among the best positioned among all of the new female nominees to prevail in November.

It’s not entirely clear whether the results so far represent a surge in turnout among female voters or simply the numerical reality that more women running in primaries means more women winning nominations. More female voters in November may not change the ratio in the House, but it could determine who controls it.