Wave of Female Candidates Likely Wave of Female Losses Come November

A feel-good story is unlikely to have a happy ending.

NPR (“The Wave Of Female Candidates Is Set For A Wave Of Losses, Come November“):

This year’s unprecedented crop of women running for office includes a glut of women running in races that, to put it mildly, will be a challenge for them to win in November.

An NPR analysis shows that the influx of women candidates, beyond being heavily Democratic, features a glut of Democratic women running in races currently considered to be easy Republican wins.

In total, 49 percent of the Democratic women running for the House, not including incumbents, are in likely or safe Republican districts. On the other side, 34 percent of Republican women running as non-incumbents are in likely or safe Democratic House districts.

And even those running for seats that are within reach for their party will still have to get through sometimes crowded primaries.

The bottom line is that a wave of female candidates is going to equal a wave of women losing in 2018.

Importantly, this doesn’t necessarily make women unusual, according to an NPR analysis of the FEC’s total candidate dataset. That data isn’t perfect — it includes some candidates who filed but never made it to the ballot, for example — but it suggests that large numbers of men, particularly Democrats, have filed in districts that would be very difficult to win. Indeed, while the number of women running has increased substantially this year, the level of women as a share of all candidates has not increased all that much.

Interestingly, the districts featuring female candidates followed a similar pattern in the last midterms — with many Democratic women likewise running in solid Republican districts — according to data from March 2014 provided to NPR by both the Cook Political Report and Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics, or CAWP.

The numbers:

It would be especially gratifying to see a geriatric misogynist rebuked this November by a wave of young women taking over the Congress. But that’s highly unlikely to happen.

Still, that’s an odd way to look at it. There have already been races where repugnant Republican men have been ousted by Democratic women running against their embarrassing statements. We’ll likely see more of that in November. Democrats and women can’t win races they don’t contest. Just because most won’t be successful doesn’t make the effort a failure. And, of course, there’s a very strong chance, indeed, that Democrats will win enough seats to take over the House even if a lot of their individual candidates are disappointed.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Gender Issues, Public Opinion Polls, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jen says:

    The more important point is that they are competing. Uncontested seats should bother everyone.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Even if they lose, they bring their issues to public attention.

  3. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Glad to see you recognized this is an odd framing, James.

    Stories about women in places they usually aren’t are often oddly framed if you think about what might have been said about men in a similar situation. It’s hard to do that here, so extra points for that.

    Meanwhile, in contrast to “More women are running, but some will lose,” nothing is being said about all the old white men Donald Trump keeps hiring. And the young white male crooks.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    A wave of first-time candidates losing means that the Dems will have hundreds of veteran women campaigners for 2020. Most rookies lose. It’s a valuable lesson. This is how a bench of candidates is created, and how “solid Republican” districts become a little less so.

  5. KM says:

    @Neil Hudelson”

    Most rookies lose. It’s a valuable lesson.

    This. Beginner’s luck may be a thing but experience is the real winner. Even if we lose half of this group, we’ll still have a base with connections and determination that can either try again or help out the next group. At the very least, it will create an awareness among themselves and those they worked with about political issues and what can be done about them.

    “And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

  6. JohnMcC says:

    There is quite a cultural change hiding behind this political story. I don’t pretend to be the guy to explain (or understand) it all but to the extent that ‘#metoo’ and similar social movements like this make that whole business of the ‘daddy party’ look worn pretty thin around the knees