There’s been a familiar narrative creeping into the 2020 presidential race. As Elizabeth Warren takes the lead, her electability is being called into question. In real terms, we’re asking, “Can a woman win?”
The answer is a resounding yes.
Tuesday’s election results and just released research proves not only are women electable, but also that our agendas and our leadership are central to our nation’s success.
At VoteRunLead, where we are teaching women how to run powerful campaigns, we saw our number of alumnae running in Tuesday’s elections across 19 states double in just the past two years.
The women’s wave only continues to get more powerful as record numbers of women get ready to run in 2020. Here’s what Tuesday’s results can tell us about the future:
Women are electable.
New research from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation makes it very clear: Women are electable. In head-to-head balloting, all of the hypothetical women candidates either win or tie against straight white men of the opposite party.
Women don’t lose. The study also found that voters know that women are facing a double standard. What’s more, voters want to see women candidates take action.
Tuesday’s results reinforce that voters are ready for more women to lead. In Virginia, it was women who engineered the wins, flipping power in the state from red to blue.
In two years, Virginia’s state legislature will go from 21 percent to 29 percent women’s representation. Their ascension has major implications for finally passing the Equal Rights Amendment nationally.
Historic firsts were made across the country: Mount Vernon, New York, Portland, Maine, Scranton, Pennsylvania, Tucson, Arizona, Waukee, Iowa, and Middletown, Ohio, all elected their first female mayors, including several of color.
Virginia’s Danica Roem becomes the first trans woman to be re-elected (and by even wider margins); that state will have its first female speaker in its 400 year history.
Mississippi elected its first female attorney general and 12 women—eight Republicans and four Democrats—won seats in the state senate, beating the previous record of nine set in 2016.
Women who win come from all parties. In Philadelphia, Kendra Brooks became the first third-party candidate to win a seat in the city’s council.
Knoxville and Boston will now have majority-women city councils. So will Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s next council. Small cities like Statesboro, Georgia, where previously no women served on their council, now have three.
Women of color continue to lead the way with Muslim American women making history and Black women continuing to break barriers. It’s time to put this “electability” thing to rest—and get to work.
Reform is good for women.
On top of the powerful wins, women can be hopeful for structural reforms passing across the country. Because the rules weren’t written by us or for us, we have to examine the ecosystem that women run in. (Think Stacey Abram’s efforts to change the rules of the game.)
Experts agree that there are key structural reforms that can significantly reduce the gender disparity in politics, including Ranked-Choice Voting, which just passed in New York City.
One of the largest, most powerful municipalities in the country will now use a fairer voting system—I hope other big cities will follow—which will have a direct impact on the number of women on the city council.
Cities that use Ranked Choice Voting have twice as many female mayors and 40 percent more female city councilors.
The future is bright. And female.
VoteRunLead saw twice as many women run for local office from 2017 to 2019. We already have double the number of women running for U.S. Congress and hundreds of women gearing up for next year’s local and state primaries.
Record-breaking numbers of women, including a notable surge in Republican women, are already campaigning for 2020. Female presidential candidates are now the norm for Democrats.
Whether it’s suburban female voters, the women powering presidential campaigns, or the growing crop of female candidates at every level, it’s clear women are winning.
Let’s stop talking about women’s electability. Let’s start talking about their impact.