Year of the (Republican) Woman

Posted by on Nov 19, 2020 in Government

This year, the nation celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave white women the right to vote in 1920. However, even in 2020, women remain very underrepresented in U.S. politics. Currently, the United States has 435 voting members of the House of Representatives, and 100 in the Senate. In the current Congress, women only represent 23 percent of the House of Representatives and 26 percent of the Senate’s members. Experts estimate it will take sixty years for women to reach close to 50% representation in Congress. In recent years, however, both parties have made great strides toward chipping away at this imbalance, and the 2020 election was no exception. Here, btw takes a closer look.

A Good Night for Democrats

When Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office in January 2021, Harris will become the first woman–and the first woman of color–to hold the role of vice president. But Election Day gains for Democratic women didn’t stop there. Democrats also elected 103 women to Congress, just short of their 2018 record.

A Changing Party

Political analysts and the media called 2018 “The Year of the Woman,” and indeed, a record-breaking number of Democratic women took seats in Congress. But Democrats aren’t the only ones working to bring more women to the table. In 2020, a record number of Republican women will hold seats in Congress as well: 32 total, which beats the previous record of 30 in 2006. This includes 23 newly elected female Republican legislators.

Why Now?

Many Republican women were inspired by what Democratic women accomplished in 2018, and they stepped up to run in record numbers (a total of 227 Republican women ran for the House this year, including primary races). They were also motivated by women holding positions high up within the Republican National Party. Historically, the Democratic Party has outperformed the Republican Party in funding and support for female candidates. But Republicans closed the gap further in 2020. After the “blue wave” of 2018 knocked the total number of Republican congresswomen back from 23 to 13, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York–the youngest GOP woman in the House–launched a political action committee (PAC) to recruit and support women in Republican primary races. Other Republican congresswomen joined Rep. Stefanik in her efforts. This cycle, the PAC spent nearly $3 million on female candidates, and the results for the Republican Party was promising.

Stefanik and others say that they are committed to their efforts because it’s important to bring more women to the table to more fairly and accurately represent their constituents–and to prove to the nation that the Republican Party is ready to change its party image.

Dig Deeper Stefanik and others started a super PAC to recruit and support female candidates. But what does that mean? Use Internet resources to learn more about what a super PAC is and does, and write a short paragraph about what you find.