More women typically run for Congress on the Democratic side. But opposition to policies on health care, reproductive rights, the environment and taxes crafted by Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress, as well as a perceived misogyny coming from the commander in chief, have all driven first-time Democratic candidates to run. Trump’s election in 2016 helped spark a spike in enthusiasm and civic engagement for the party, which is pushing to win 24 Republican-held House seats to take a majority in the chamber.
Some women running for the House for the first time on the Republican side partly attribute their move to a desire to support GOP economic policies that they say have propped up their home districts.
Although the number of women running has surged this year, the number of men seeking office has increased, as well. Using its list of potential candidates in January, CAWP estimated the number of Democratic women running for the House could spike 146 percent this year relative to what it estimated at the same time in the 2016 election. Men running on the Democratic side were expected to jump by 126 percent relative to 2016.
Despite the surge, women still made up only about 23 percent of potential congressional candidates tracked by CAWP as of January. While that proportion has climbed from about 19 percent in 2016, it still falls well short of representing the overall population, which is 52 percent women.
Still, the surge of women running this year could at least moderately boost representation in Congress, where women hold only about 20 percent of the 535 seats. Many of the women running for House seats, in particular, are either challenging men or running for an open seat previously held by a man. Many women are running for office for the first time in battleground House seats that will help to determine which party controls the chamber after November.
During the early stages of the primary season, seven women running for office for the first time in key House elections told Giftofaservant why they ran and what more women in Congress would mean to them.