A total of 309 women have filed candidacy papers to run for US House seats in the 2018 elections, breaking the previous record of 298 women who ran in 2012. According to the Associated Press, most of the female candidates are Democrats who are motivated by “angst” over Donald Trump’s administration and his largely Republican Congress.
This number is likely to continue to grow in the coming months. Women have shown a record-breaking interest in running for office ever since two days after Trump’s inauguration. In December 2017, the New York Times reported an unprecedented number of women were showing interest in running for office at the local, state, and national levels. Many of them said they were directly motivated by Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton.
“It was Donald Trump and the way that he sort of embraced masculinity, but even more specifically, misogyny, in his rhetoric and behavior,” said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics. “To make a statement against that and the policies he espoused sort of pushed them over the edge to not just think about running, but to put their names out there.”
The current representation of women and men in Congress is severely lopsided. Women make up less than 20 percent of Congress. Out of 535 total members, there are just 22 women senators and 83 women representatives.
“I think women now are saying, ‘Yes, I can do this job as well as a man, but I don’t want to. I want to do it the way I want to do it,’” top Hillary Clinton aide Jennifer Palmieri recently said in an interview. “That’s reflected in the numbers of candidates. I think it’s going to result in more empowerment for women and a democracy and government that’s more representative of the people it governs.”