Throughout the news coverage of the 2018 election, there was a resounding narrative around the thought that this would be another ‘Year of the Woman.’ The last time pundits dubbed an election cycle with this label was in 1992. That’s 16 years since an “unprecedented” number of women ran for office and commanded the attention of the election news coverage. Let’s not forget that the 1992 victory for women’s representation was heralded as such because 11 women were nominated by major parties for Senate seats, and only six of them ultimately won. While that tripled the number of women in the U.S. Senate, there was still a clear and substantial disparity in the number of women – particularly women of color – serving in public office.
So, we were curious to see how the election would actually shake out for women running in 2018 – specifically here in Ohio. We did an analysis of the 2018 Ohio general election to better understand what the ‘Year of the Woman’ meant for women running in state and federal races in the state. What we found was that this new potential will have significant impact on the representation of women in Ohio. Of the candidates running in Ohio’s 2018 general election in statewide races, federal races, and state legislative races, 84 of them were women.
And when women run, women win. When you factor in contested races and uncontested races, 36 women won their races and will now serve as elected officials in Ohio. Here are the top ten highlights we found in the data:
1.) A total of 84 women were on the ballot on Tuesday.
This includes Republican, Democratic, and Green party candidates who were listed on the ballot for statewide, federal, and state legislative races for the 2018 general election.
2.) These 84 women were running for a total of 74 different offices/races.
For a further breakdown, that’s 3 statewide races (Ohio Supreme Court, Governor/Lieutenant Governor, and Treasurer), 10 races for the U.S. House of Representatives, 51 races for the Ohio State House, and 10 races for the Ohio State Senate
3.) Only 3 of these races were uncontested. In the 80 other races where women were running, they faced at least one challenger.
That means women are stepping up to run in competitive primaries at every level. And in many cases, women were taking on incumbents.
4.) There were 29 candidates who took on sitting incumbent lawmakers in Tuesday’s general election.
Running against an incumbent is a huge uphill battle, and unfortunately, none of the women taking on sitting legislators won their elections. There were, however, 16 women who ran as incumbents themselves – and all 16 women won their races.
5.) Women also ran in the general election for a number of open seats – and a total of 19 women won open seats.
Of the races where women ran, a total of 32 were open seats – and women won many of these races. There were 19 women who won races for open seats, including two women who ran for open seats in uncontested races.
6.) In total, there were 36 wins for women running in the general election. That means that nearly half of the women who ran in statewide, federal, or state legislative seats here in Ohio won their races.
This includes women winning in races at the state and local level: 27 state house wins, 5 state senate wins, 3 US House wins, and 1 statewide win.
7.) These wins included women running against other women, 1:1 against a male opponent, and in a few cases women beating out multiple opponents.
For example, in state house races, 18 women won races against a male opponent. In state senate races, 4 women were victorious in races where their opponent was a man.
8.) While women ran as Democrats and Republicans – and one Green party candidate – we also did a breakdown of party affiliation for the different races.
We found that the majority of women on the ballot – in statewide, federal, and state legislative races – ran as Democratic candidates. The final breakdown: 65 Democrats, 18 Republicans, and 1 Green party candidate.
9.) For Republican candidates: 18 women were on the ballot running as Republicans, many of them winning.
This includes 1 statewide office (Ohio Supreme Court), 1 U.S. House seat, 2 state senate seats, and 14 state house seats. Of the 18 Republican women who ran, 11 candidates won their general election races.
10.) For Democratic candidates: A total of 65 women were on the ballot running as Democratic candidates, nearly 40% of them winning.
This includes 3 statewide races, 10 U.S. House races, 9 state senate races, and 43 state house races. Of the 65 Democratic women who ran, 25 candidates won their general election races.
BONUS: Shout out to the Matriots Ohio for this highlight – 34 female legislators were elected to office [in the general election], increasing the total number of women in the Ohio General Assembly from 29 to at least 34 for the 133rd GA, resulting in the highest percentage of women serving in the legislature in Ohio’s history!’
BOTTOM LINE: When women run, women win – particularly when taking on open seats or running as incumbents themselves. These races will have an immense impact on the priorities of our state and federal government: Studies show that women in elected office bring a different perspective to the job than their male counterparts. Women serving as public officials are more likely to be involved and advocate for issues with a disproportionate effect on women, such as the lack of access to paid family leave and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. Maybe it’s time we made the ‘year of the woman’ an annual tradition.