April 01, 2020
From the nation's leading source on all things women and politics.


The End of the Presidential Primary for Women Candidates
On March 19th, Tulsi Gabbard ended her presidential campaign, the final woman candidate to do so. CAWP Director Debbie Walsh released the following statement in response:

The 2020 presidential campaign began with six women candidates running in the Democratic primary, a record level of participation, including four U.S. Senators, a four-term U.S. Representative, and a successful entrepreneur.
Now there are none.
From the beginning, the 2016 campaign loomed over 2020 and one question was repeated continuously throughout the primary: Can a woman win? It has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Women can win. Hillary Clinton showed this in 2016 when she won an overwhelming popular vote victory. Women at all levels, in all kinds of districts, showed this in 2018 when they set records for political representation in the Congress and around the country.
As we've discussed throughout this election cycle, women are forced to run  dual campaigns: a traditional campaign to show that they are the best person for the job and an additional campaign appealing to political analysts, donors, and the media, as well as voters, to prove that they are "electable" at all.
Someday a woman will be President of the United States. But it won't happen in an environment where women are hobbled by different, and greater, expectations than their male counterparts.
It's time to change the way we talk about women candidates.

A Woman Running Mate is Just a Start 
Following Joe Biden's announcement that he will select a woman as his running mate, CAWP Scholar Kelly Dittmar penned a new Election Analysis piece, elaborating on the history of women vice presidential candidates and discussing the potential impacts of having a woman on the ticket. "Concerns that this year's addition of a woman is simply a consolation prize for not winning the ticket's top spot, beliefs that a gender-balanced ticket is overdue, and demands that the candidates do more than select a woman to demonstrate competency on gender equity," she writes, "are likely to depress the enthusiasm that emerges as a direct result of the selection of a woman VP." Read the full piece here. You can also find a list of past VP candidates on our Women Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates page.
Teach a Girl to Lead® with North Carolina State Representative Ashton Clemmons 
CAWP's Teach a Girl to Lead® classroom reading project encourages women officeholders to visit schools in their district, read the current book selection we send to them, Grace Goes to Washington, with students, and talk to them about their experiences as a way to model women's leadership for young boys and girls.   North Carolina State Representative  Ashton Clemmons had planned out her school visit when the COVID-19 outbreak led to school closures, so she decided to take her classroom reading virtual . Watch her read the book, discuss her work as a North Carolina legislator, and encourage discussion between children and their parents. Clemmons even took the program a step further: officeholders are encouraged to donate the copy of the book we send them to the school they visit, but, since she wasn't able to visit a specific school, she's buying additional copies of the book and donating them to any school from the district if someone from the school comments on the post. Thank you, Representative Clemmons, for modeling leadership, and generosity, in such difficult times. We encourage other elected officials to follow in Rep. Clemmons' footsteps and host virtual readings for the children in their communities! You can find more details, including discussion guides for our current and previous reading project book selections, on our Teach a Girl to Lead® Reading Project page .   A special thanks to our generous sponsors of this project: the Hess Foundation, the Honorable Constance Hess Williams, and Comcast NBCUniversal.
Help support CAWP programs that bring women's leadership 
to future generations.

GOP Women Surpass Previous High for Filed House Candidates
Following a disappointing midterm election in 2018, 140 Republican women have filed to run for U.S. House seats, a new high since CAWP began collecting this data in 1990. The previous high for filed Republican women House candidates was 133, set in 2010. With filing deadlines still open in nearly half of states, including New York and Florida, Republican women have further potential to add to their House candidate pool. "We are encouraged by this increase in the number of Republican women getting in the race in 2020," said CAWP Director Debbie Walsh, "and equally encouraged at the work being done by organizations that support GOP women candidates, both long-established groups and those recently formed." Read more in our press release.

GOP Women: What's Next 
With a new high in the number of filed candidates for Republican women, we're now pondering questions like whether those candidates will receive support from donors, insiders, and voters in their party during the primary and whether they're running in districts where they have a chance of victory in a general election. In her new piece, The Current State of Republican Women and What Might Happen in 2020, CAWP Research Associate Claire Gothreau walks through the recent history for GOP women candidates, the work being done to increase their numbers in 2020, and how this year might play out for them, accounting for the partisan lean of the districts they're running in.

Results from the Illinois Primary 
Congressional primaries were held two weeks ago in Illinois, and CAWP tracked results for women candidates. Among the most notable outcomes:
  • In Illinois' 3rd district, Marie Newman (D) defeated the incumbent of her own party, Dan Lipinski. 
    • This was the first defeat of an incumbent in the 2020 election cycle. 
    •  She lost to Lipinski in the 2018 primary by 2 points. 
    • This seat is currently rated "Solid Democratic" by Cook Political Report, meaning this is a likely gain for Democratic women in the House. 
  • Mary Miller (R) won her nomination for a House seat in Illinois' 15th district. Cook Political Report categorizes this seat as "Solid Republican," making this a likely gain for Republican women in November.
  • There are woman vs. woman races in three Illinois districts (2nd, 15th, 17th).
  • Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D) won her nomination for the 13th district and will run against incumbent Rodney L. Davis (R).
    • This seat is rated as "Toss Up Republican" by Cook.
Complete results from the Illinois primaries are available on our Election Analysis page; full context about women in the 2020 elections, including candidate lists, summaries, results from previous primaries, and historical comparisons, are available via Election Watch.
  CAWP in the News


Center for American Women and Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics
Rutgers University | New Brunswick
191 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8557
(848) 932-9384 - Fax: (732) 932-6778