Female firsts

News flash: In case you missed it,
the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries officially ended last
week. On Tuesday last week, voters in Connecticut cast the final votes in
a contest that began in Iowa on February 3. According to the Hartford
Courant
,
with about 86 percent of the vote counted as of Wednesday morning, Joe Biden
led Bernie Sanders by a margin of 85 to 12 percent. Although voters said
“aloha” to Tulsi Gabbard long ago, she received 1 percent of the vote. In the
Republican primary, Trump captured 80 percent of the vote, while the number of those
“uncommitted” to a candidate was 13 percent. 

The day after Connecticut’s primaries, Joe
Biden announced his selection of Kamala Harris to be his vice presidential
choice. As has been widely reported, Harris is the first black woman and
the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office from a
major party.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris speaks at a campaign event, on her first joint appearance with presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden after being named by Biden as his running mate, at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 12, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

And speaking of “firsts,” research done by
the Center for American Women and Politics at
Rutgers

and the Higher Heights for
America Foundation
,
a 501(c)(3) that works to expand and support
black women in leadership, shows that a record number of at least 130 black women are running for Congress this year
(98 Democrats, 32 Republicans). The broader category of women of color is also
setting records this year. Filing deadlines have passed in all states, but
there are still primaries to be held, so the numbers in this post could change.

And in another “first” this
year, again with data provided by CAWP
on August 12, a record number of female congressional
candidates (41) will face each other in the fall. The first instance of a woman
running against another woman for a congressional seat was in 1944 when Clare
Boothe Luce faced Margaret Connor in Connecticut. (Luce barely edged out
Connor.)

In yet another first, CAWP
reported in late July that a record number of female Republicans, 54, filed for
Congress in 2020. However, their numbers still trail those of female Democrats.
What matters more to
women in casting their vote: gender or political party? Seventy-one percent of women
in a Benenson Strategy Group survey for the American University Women and
Politics Institute agreed with the statement, “I like the idea of having
more women in political office, but when I go to cast my vote, the thing that
matters most to me is whether the candidate is a Democrat or a Republican, not
whether they are a man or a woman.” The survey was taken shortly after the 2018
elections, when record numbers of women were elected to the House and Senate.

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