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Saturday, January 2, 2021

Women Candidates in 2020

 Stacy Montemayor and Pete Quist, National Institute on Money in Politics; Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Grace Haley, Center for Responsive Politics, | 2020-12-21

Key findings:

  • Between 2016 and 2020, the percentage of women candidates in gubernatorial and state legislative races saw a massive jump, from 25 percent to 32 percent.
  • At least 142 women will hold seats in the next Congress, an all-time high mark.
  • In 2020 races for the U.S. House and Senate, women candidates outraised men on average, while also nearly closing the gap in state-level contests.
  • In 2020 races, women accounted for 33 percent of donations to congressional candidates and 31 percent of donations to state-level candidates, both record marks.

Republican women also made gains in state races, though they were less pronounced. Women made up nearly 23 percent of 2020 Republican candidates, up from 18 percent in 2016. The biggest jump came from non-incumbent Republicans. In 2016, nearly 19 percent of Republican challengers were women. That figure jumped to 27 percent in this year’s elections.

Figure 2: Women candidates in 2020 state races, by party

Women candidates generally won at the same rate at which they ran at the state level. In 2020, 32 percent of all candidates for state legislative and gubernatorial seats were women, and 32 percent of the general election winners were women. In the 2016 and 2012 election cycles, women only accounted for 26 percent of general election winners.

Gender parity at the state level is still a ways off despite modest gains. Nevada remains the only state in the nation with a majority-female legislature. The vast majority of leadership positions in state legislatures are held by men. Just seven women serve as speakers of state houses, and nine women currently serve as governors.