Much of the attention to gender and the 2020 election has been focused on the Democratic presidential primary. But more than 500 offices at the congressional and statewide level (and many more in state legislative contests) are also up for election this year, providing multiple sites for us to evaluate the numerical presence and progress for women, and the different ways in which gender shapes campaign terrain for all candidates.
Harris’ electability as a Black woman was not the problem that sank her 2020 race. Instead, doubts of that electability—whether from voters, donors, media or political elites—were an added burden to her campaign.
The 2018 election delivered key points of progress that will shape the terrain that candidates are navigating in 2020 and beyond, and it left those of us committed to more equitable political institutions with a reminder that we have unfinished business left to address.
In the 116th Congress, women will hold at least 23.4 percent of all seats, up from 20 percent in 2018. That isn’t enough.
We asked experts on gender, race and politics to weigh in on the 2018 election results, sharing their reactions to what happened and insights and analyses from research, practice and personal sentiments.
While allegations of inappropriate behavior and inaction to punish it have forced resignations and derailed campaigns in the past 18 months, voters’ intolerance for misogynist behavior and beliefs is far from universal.
The diversity of approaches by women and men in this year’s elections all inevitably expand or enforce notions of masculinity and femininity—and what are deemed appropriate credentials for officeholding.
Male candidates’ strategic and tactical decisions in this year’s election—just like women’s—will either replicate or disrupt prevailing norms of gender in society and on the campaign trail. What choices will they make?
Win or lose, the women running for office this year have the power to disrupt norms of both gender and candidacy—and that’s a victory for all of us.
If the voting public is frustrated with the ineffectiveness of Congress, electing women and giving them the political power they need to get things done is a two-pronged approach to changing the game.