Women are breaking records in the November Congressional elections. According to a study by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), more women than ever are running for seats in the House of Representatives, and women are also on track to break the record for the number of female candidates to win their party’s nomination.
Debbi Walsh, director of CAWP, says that “already, 294 women have filed to run for House seats, with four more expected to sign on, shattering the previous record of 262 women set in 2010.” While only half of states have completed primary voting for the 2012 elections, CAWP also reports that:
After primaries in 26 states, 97 women have won contests that put them on the November ballot. If the same voting patterns continue in the remaining 24 states, where 115 women are slated to run, as many as 60 additional women would advance to the general election, putting the total well above the current record of 141 women candidates set in 2004.
As the Guardian reports, among the candidates, more than half of the women are Democrats — 185 Democrats compared to 110 Republicans — and more Democrats than Republicans have already won their primaries. This disparity reflects current differences in the party make-up of legislators, where 31 percent of the Democratic party is women, compared to just 17 percent for the Republican party. Walsh reported that “If it is a good year for Democrats, it is likely to be a good year for women.”
The increased number of women running for Congress is important, as women are significantly underrepresented in government. Currently, only 16.6 percent of the House is female and only 17 percent of the Congress overall. The United States ranks only 78 in the world in terms of women’s representation in government. If enough of the women running for the House are elected, the number of women in office could increase to 20 percent.