If there’s one theme emerging from the 2018 primaries so far, it’s that Democratic women candidates are crushing it.
We’ve known for a while that a record number of women are running for the House and Senate, but the primaries so far have shown that women candidates — and Democratic women in particular — are winning. More than 40 percent of Democratic nominees for the US House of Representatives so far are women, according to an NBC News analysis. Meanwhile, fewer than 10 percent of Republican nominees are women, NBC found.
Put another way, Democratic female candidates are overperforming by about 15 percent in primaries, the Cook Political Report found.
Story of '18 primaries so far: female candidates are overperforming by an average of 15% in Dem primaries, vs. 1.7% in GOP primaries (graphic credit: @CookPolitical intern Jacob Link). pic.twitter.com/oXW2RxkyQh— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) June 4, 2018
The graph compares the percentage of the primary vote that women candidates won to the share of women candidates on the ballot in each House primary. (Each bar on this bar graph is an individual race — the woman who overperformed the most is Democratic Courtney Tritch in Indiana’s Third Congressional District, the analysis found.)
In other words, female candidates in 2018 are more likely to defeat male candidates than the other way around.
Take it from the Cook Political Report’s House editor Dave Wasserman, who recently wrote on the topic:
There have been 65 contests featuring at least one man, one woman and no incumbent on a Democratic primary ballot. Women have defeated men in 45 of those 65 races, and women were the top vote-getters in an additional two Georgia races headed to runoffs. Men defeated women in just 18 cases.
As Wasserman points out, the media and political pundits are building up a lot of narratives around 2018 — whether it will be the year of the insurgent progressive candidate toppling more establishment candidates backed by Democratic party insiders.
There haven’t been enough wins one way or another to know that for sure. But Wasserman argues that one clear theme emerging is that after Trump’s 2016 election, women are fired up and ready to run for office in greater numbers than ever before.
Trump’s approval rating is underwater with college-educated women; an April poll conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal found just 27 percent of college-educated women approved of the president, while 72 percent disapproved.
But it’s not just about Trump — women candidates around the country say they are fed up with men in Congress and in statehouses around the country passing laws on women’s issues and other key policy areas, and decided they needed to get politically involved themselves.
“That was a big thing for me last spring, watching men talking about defunding Planned Parenthood,” said Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, the Democratic nominee for Texas’s Seventh Congressional District, during a recent interview with Vox. “If women were having that conversation, I think the outcomes would be different.”
But as Wasserman wrote, “there may be something much simpler and more powerful than ideology at work here: Democratic primary voters’ intense desire to nominate women in 2018. If House Democrats are ultimately successful in November, 2018 might be remembered as the ‘Year of the Angry College-Educated Female’ — a reversal of the 1994 GOP revolution’s ‘Year of the Angry White Male.’”
What’s more, voters want to elect these women. Some recent wins included Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District, Kara Eastman in Nebraska’s Second District, and Lauren Underwood in Illinois’s 14th.
Republicans are also stepping up their recruitment drive of female candidates. There are currently 103 Republican women running for House seats in 2018, compared to 48 in the previous election cycle. Republican strategists say that’s the result of a strong, disciplined recruitment effort.
But as the Cook graphic suggests, Democrats are blowing Republicans out of the water both in the number of recruits this year and the number of women candidates who are actually winning so far in 2018.