Number of female political candidates has more than doubled

Tens of thousands filled Boston Common for the Boston Women’s March for America in January.
Tens of thousands filled Boston Common for the Boston Women’s March for America in January. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File/Boston Globe

Time magazine declared “The Silence Breakers” who spoke out about sexual assault and harassment as the 2017 Person of The Year. The 2018 election year is shaping up to feature an unprecedented number of female candidates for major offices. And with months before candidate filing deadlines expire, it’s likely even more women will say #MeToo.

The number of women already running for congressional or statewide offices around the country is more than double than the number who ran in 2016. In 2016, 183 women ran for the US House or Senate. For the 2018 cycle, 410 women are already running, according to a list updated this week by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.


In 2014, there were 30 women candidates for governor’s offices, which typically come with a four-year term. Seventy-three women are running for the same position in 2018, according to the Rutgers survey. The same trend holds true for other statewide races, all the way down to state auditor.

Rutgers counted women who have filed paperwork to run or are very close to doing so. Other women are undoubtedly pondering a move. EMILY’s List, a powerful organization that supports pro-choice female candidates of both parties, told the Globe this week that 22,000 different women have contacted them this year about running for offices down to the municipal level. That was up from 920 women who contacted them in 2016.

The sheer number of women running could show that the energy behind the large women’s marches earlier in the year didn’t fade into the background but instead empowered women. The impressive totals also reflect a larger base of female incumbents who are seeking reelection.

While there are more Democratic female candidates than Republican female candidates, Republican women are better at winning statewide offices. Currently, there are 42 Republican women holding important elected positions in state government compared with just 31 Democratic women.


Geographically, the rising tide of women is pretty spread out. Louisiana is the only state at the moment that doesn’t have a woman running for major office in 2018.

In New England, Massachusetts has the most women running for major office, with 18 candidates, including Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is seeking reelection, and two female Republican candidates who hope to defeat her, Beth Lindstrom and Heidi Wellman. Connecticut has 11 women running, Maine has six, New Hampshire has four, Rhode Island has three, and Vermont has two.

Context matters. Kelly Dittmar, who compiled the list at Rutgers, found that while there might be a surge of women candidates, they still made up less than a quarter of potential candidates for the 2018 cycle. Men still hold the vast majority of seats at both the state and federal level, despite the fact that more women voted than men in the 2016 election.

The year began with women marching in the streets, largely in protest of a new president who had bragged about assaulting women. The year ends in a moment of reckoning against men who have acted inappropriately in workplaces and have been getting away with it their entire lives.

Next year could bring a political reckoning, as women go from holding protest signs to holding up their right hands to take oaths of office.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp