2018 is surely the “Year of the Woman” after the US midterm elections on Tuesday, November 6. The political science department at CofC hosted a panel discussion to break down the highlights, wins and losses of this year, as well as trends occurring across the parties.
Dr. Claire B. Wofford noted that the most common headline she saw following the elections the night before contain the words “America is so divided.”
“Well, that’s true,” she said, “But I firmly believe if anyone is going to blur red and blue together to make purple, it is going to be females– both candidates and voters.”
She went on to point out political science studies which show women are just as likely to win as men when they run for office. However, there is a major gender discrepancy in candidates. This year “women said ‘I’m running,’” Wofford said. 476 women ran for congress in 2018 , compared to 298 in 2012. In the Senate, 53 ran in 2018 compared 40 in 2016. 61 women posted in gubernatorial elections, versus 33 in 2004.
This Congress will be the most gender diverse ever. Congress will be made of 28 percent women, up from 20 percent, according to Wofford. The House will jump to 98 women up from 84. One less woman will serve in the Senate when the new Congress begins in January.
Dr. Karyn Amira covered “intra-party divisions and movements.” She paralleled the rise of the “tea party movement.” Trends show that parties experience division and reform following a major loss. Republicans endured this after Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Democrats intra-party division is apparent following the mid-term elections. According to Amira, we saw an influx of tea party-like candidates, including senators Mike Lee D and Christine O’Donnell R in 2018.
In many ways, the chaos of the 2016 elections have shaped the politics we see today. Though Bernie Sanders did not receive the presidential nomination in 2016, he put an unhalted progressivist movement into motion. Representative Keith Ellison bolstered the movement. However, DNC chairman Tom Perez continues to represent a more moderate, “Hillary” position for the party.
Another notable Amira statistic is the Democratic party has been very successful with midterm endorsed candidates. “The party still very much decides [who wins] the primaries.” Whether candidates are endorsed because they are popular or whether they are popular because they are endorsed is unclear. Either way, many websites have emerged endorsing candidates of particular caucuses, including ourrevolution.com and justicedemocrats.com.
Democrats’ biggest loss was the Georgia governorship with Stacey Abrams who still has not conceded the race.
Though still divided, the 2018 midterms made it evident our political color palette is beginning to mix.