Women Setting Records As Candidates, Donors

The #MeToo movement may be felt at the ballot box this year.

Women energized by the #MeToo movement and reports of President Trump’s perceived sexism may be coming to an election near you.

USA Today reports this morning that a record number of women are running for Congress and other offices this year and that donations from women to candidates – male and female – are skyrocketing.

Nearly 400 women, most of them Democrats, are running for Congress and 43 are seeking governorships, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. And since President Trump’s election in 2016, more than 36,000 women have reached out to Emily’s List, a political action group that promotes female candidates, to inquire about running for office.

Emily’s List had only 920 such inquiries during the 2016 election cycle, a spokeswoman for the group told USA Today.

Meanwhile, statistics compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics indicate that women donors are responsible for nearly one-third of the money contributed to 2018 congressional candidates; that’s up from 27 percent in the last midterm election – in 2014.

The mushrooming numbers of female candidates and donors constitute good news about the health of American democracy, a sign perhaps that despite partisan gridlock in Washington and many statehouses — and an epidemic of cynicism about politics in the general public — substantial numbers of Americans aren’t ready to give up on the system. The USA Today report notes that record numbers of men also are running for office this year.

At least a few candidates are relying mostly on women for their financial support. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY; Elizabeth Warren, D-MA; and Tammy Baldwin, D-WI; along with Reps. Bonnie Coleman, D-NJ; John Lewis, D-GA; and Liz Watson, a Democratic candidate in Indiana, report that more than half of their campaign donations have come from women.

“These are record numbers, and it’s consistent with the sense that there’s rising momentum for women on a number of fronts in this election cycle,” said Sheila Krumholz, director of the center.