2020 elections mark another ‘Year of the Woman’—this time for Republicans

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Colorado voters approve paid family leave, Angela Merkel urges action against COVID, and GOP women close their gender gap. Have a great Thursday! – Another ‘Year of the Woman.’ The 2018 midterm election was dubbed the ‘Year of the Woman,’ especially in Congress, with voters electing […]

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Colorado voters approve paid family leave, Angela Merkel urges action against COVID, and GOP women close their gender gap. Have a great Thursday!

– Another ‘Year of the Woman.’ The 2018 midterm election was dubbed the ‘Year of the Woman,’ especially in Congress, with voters electing 102 women to the House and 14 to the Senate. But that title came with an important caveat: it really only applied to Democrats. Of the women elected to Congress, 89 of the representatives were Democrats, as were 11 of the senators.

In 2020, the reverse is true. As results continue to trickle in, it’s clear that this year was another big one for women—but mainly for Republicans.

As of last night, 23 female Republicans had won House seats, setting GOP women up to surpass their previous record of 25. In the Senate, Republicans Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Susan Collins (Maine) held off serious challenges to their seats, and Kelly Loeffler (Ga.) beat out another Republican, Doug Collins, to advance to a January runoff for the seat she was appointed to earlier this year. Cynthia Lummis, meanwhile, is a newcomer; she’ll be the first Republican woman to represent Wyoming in the Senate.

So far, the number of female Republicans who will serve in the next Congress—31—surpasses the previous high of 30, set in 2006. Female Democrats’ tally is at 96, which represents a loss of nine seats.

The Republican wins cut into Democrats’ advantage in electing women to federal office and they make good on the GOP’s 2018 vow to chip away at its own enormous gender gap in Congress. Republicans made progress by seeking to recruit and nominate candidates who are more diverse and have less traditional backgrounds, the same strategy Democrats employed for the 2018 midterms.

For instance, former journalist Maria Elvira Salazar unseated Democrat Donna Shalala in Florida’s 27th District. Yvette Herrell, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, beat incumbent Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico’s 2nd District; she’ll be the first Native American Republican woman in Congress.

Americans will—of course!—filter the 2020 results through a partisan lens, but at the very least, the gains among Republican women mirror a trend we’re seeing across the U.S., from Congress to the C-Suite; that the definition of who’s ready to assume positions of power—a standard that long disadvantaged women—is finally shifting.

Claire Zillman
[email protected]
@clairezillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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