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7 Things to Know About the Record-Breaking Number of New Women Governors

Twelve women won a governor’s office in the November 2022 midterm election. Those 12 represent a record number of women governors, more than one-quarter of the 46 women who have ever served as governor since 1974.

These women are slated to be inaugurated in early January 2023.

A governor heads a state’s executive branch. While their powers vary, governors are essential in writing and passing a state’s budget, shaping legislative priorities, signing bills into law and appointing top officials in the executive branch.

The governorship is a common path to the presidency and the vice presidency, and 19 governors have won U.S. Senate seats since 2000.

Diversity in who is elected governor is important. In a time of decreasing trust in democracy, women governors send a message to all Americans that their government is representative of all its people. In addition, research shows that women governors encourage other women to run for elective office and increase feelings of political efficacy among voters. Political efficacy is the connection citizens feel to their govt, allowing them to believe their input matters. Thus they are more likely to pay attention to the actions of their government and participate in politics.

We are scholars who study American politics and women in politics. To understand the backgrounds of the candidates running for governor in 2022, we have gathered information on the prior political experience of all 420 announced candidates for governor in 2022, and from previous years, stretching back to 1978.

Here are seven things we found out about the record number of recently elected women to governorships and what they mean for American politics.

1. To Win, You Have to Run

2. Political Experience Matters

3. Democratic and Republican Women Approach The Decision to Run for Governor Differently

4. Incumbency Matters

5. Open Seats Provide Opportunities for Women Candidates

6. When Women Run, They Are as Successful as Men

7. Governors’ COVID Policies Differed Between Men and Women


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