How the Blue Wave turned Pink

How the Blue Wave turned Pink

Politics used to be considered one of the most male-dominated professions, resulting in the historical gender gap in representation in the government.  The last few decades show an observable growth in female engagement in politics - both in terms of voting and running for office.

The gender-gap in voting is growing

Every-time there is election women and men tend to vote differently by a bigger or smaller margin. However, never before have women voted so opposingly to men.

In 2004, the House of Representatives elections showed there was no such gap whatsoever. Since then, division has been gradually growing and even though in the next two elections, the gap stayed at 8 per cent, it did not stop there, reaching a historic high of 23 per cent, this year. 59 per cent of women voted Democrat, compared to men voting 46%.

The results may be attributed to the growing polarisation of the two sexes in recent years, mostly caused by Donald Trump. Concerns surrounding his comments about women during his campaign and presidency, as well as, his choice of appointees, i.e. Judge Brett Kavanaugh, are some of the reasons for this polarisation. This tends to be a divisive force in households, and the responses from the government to sexual-violence-related events (like the #MeToo movement) are not fostering any unity. In the two years, Donald Trump was on the ballot, we could observe the widest gender-gap in US history.  It does not look as though, like the situation is going to change in 2020.

Women are leading the way to the polls

The 2014 midterms were a sign of political apathy with no real care about their outcome, especially on the democratic side. In 2018 Midterms 30 million more Americans voted in the elections, 10% of the country’s population (more than all the people in California, most populous state).

At the same time, it’s women that vote more often than men, which means it is increasingly important to reach the female portion of the population. In this war battle, the Democrats are winning by a big margin, especially among the Black and Latino electorate, with 92% and 73% of the voters choosing them over the Republicans. It is worth noting that among these two groups the gender gap is lower than among White Americans.

More campaigners, more representation

Historically, women tend to be unrepresented in the government, especially the Congress. This year there were more female candidates than ever before, and this led to the fact that since 2019 there will be a record high number of women in Congress. Soon 128 women will be residing on the Capitol Hill, most of them on the Democratic side, and in the House.

There have been a few firsts as a result of these elections, from the first native American woman, Sharice Davids (D), first Muslim woman, Rashida Tlaib (D), to the first female governors in Maine (Janet Mills (D)), Iowa (Kim Reynolds (D)), and South Dakota (Kristi Noem (R)), as well as first female Senator from Tennessee (Marsha Blackburn (R)) and Arizona (Kyrsten Sinema (D)).

At the same time, in the time leading to the elections, there were 33 congressional races where women were running against each other. Most notably the Senate race in Arizona where Kyrsten Sinema (D) was in a too close to call face-off with a Republican candidate Martha McSally. Her win came few days late as the competition was so fierce, but it has brought a victory to the LGBTQ+ community nationwide, as she is openly a part of it.

Conclusion and the outcomes

The year 2018 with the Midterm Elections at its end may definitely be considered a year in which women have thrived. They are not only gradually closing the gap in terms of representation (although there is still a long way to go), but also becoming more and more important as an electorate.  

The Democrats have gained traction on these issues as the vast majority of women candidates represent this party, as well as obtaining the majority of the female vote. The Democratic party is frequently associated with gender equality which may be very beneficial for them in the upcoming years if the trend continues.

On the opposite side, the Republican party is clearly falling behind. Beginning with Trump’s remarks a few years ago, him becoming the president, and a string of scandals that follows his presidency to this day, the future does not look bright for the party, in terms of female support. At the same time, the party itself does not really seem to be taking much focus on convincing women to choose them over the Democrats, which has now contributed to the Republicans losing in the suburbs.

A year from now presidential nominations for the 2020 elections will be announced. Keeping the 2018 midterms in mind, it would be beneficial for the Republican party to try to win over at least a part of the female electorate. This can be done in numerous ways, but the easiest one would be to promote a female candidate. They could, for example, nominate Nikki Haley, who is considered to be well suited for the role (although she announced she is not running in 2020).

An important message emerges from the 2018 midterms, and it is that whether men like it or not women are getting into politics, becoming a greater force to be dealt with.

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