The Midterms Could Set A New Record For Female Governors — And Send Fewer Women To Congress
For political candidates from underrepresented groups, progress can be uneven — and the 2022 midterms could be a great example of that, at least when it comes to women candidates.
On the one hand, it looks like we’re heading for a record-setting year for women in governors’ races. According to our forecast, there are 12 female gubernatorial candidates who have at least a 50-in-100 chance of winning in FiveThirtyEight’s Deluxe forecast, as of Tuesday at 12 p.m. Eastern. If each were to win their election, it would be historic. Up until now, only nine women have simultaneously occupied governors’ mansions. And two of the most competitive governors’ races — in Oregon and Arizona — have only women as major candidates, which increases the odds that the record will be broken this year.
But the outlook isn’t so good for women running for Congress. Several of the most vulnerable congressional candidates are women, including many Democratic House candidates who flipped seats in 2018. And it’s quite possible that the number of women in Congress will decline after the November elections.
So why do women candidates’ fortunes seem to be on the wane in some cases and not others? As we pointed out earlier this month, fewer women are running for Congress than in previous years — and the success of the previous two cycles may have made leaders in both parties feel like there’s less of a need to focus on getting more women elected. “When you talk about the pink wave or the ‘Year of the Woman,’ it makes people think that things are done, that women have taken over,” said Kelly Dittmar, an associate professor of political science at Rutgers University and the director of research at the Center for Women and Politics, “when in reality they’re still less than 30 percent of the U.S. Congress.”
Women could make history in gubernatorial races
Women are underrepresented at every level of government, but it’s proven particularly hard for female candidates to win governorships. In the country’s history, only 45 women have served as governors, and there are 19 states that have never had a female governor.