By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 13, 2020
Maura Reilly, research fellow at RepresentWomen, created a terrific spreadsheet to track wins for women in the 2020 elections and has made some charts on Infogram to illustrate the data:
Conservative women were nearing a historic level of representation in the House, more than doubling the number of female Republican incumbents in the chamber as they scored key upsets in battlegrounds across the country and beat back Democratic challengers flush with cash.
Republicans were celebrating their success at chipping away at Democrats’ House majority and feeling increasingly confident of maintaining control of the Senate. By Wednesday evening, they had elected 22 women and were on track to have the highest number of them serving in their congressional ranks, surpassing the previous record of 25 women elected in 2004.
Those wins came as Republicans fought to protect female incumbents in the Senate, where Joni Ernst of Iowa prevailed in her competitive race, Kelly Loeffler advanced to a runoff in Georgia, and Susan Collins won a decisive victory in her re-election race in Maine. Cynthia Lummis, a former House lawmaker, became the first Republican woman to represent Wyoming in the Senate, replacing the retiring incumbent, Senator Michael Enzi.
“The highest number of Republican non-incumbent women to ever win in a single election cycle for the House is nothing to sneeze at,” Ms. Dittmar noted. “But they’re largely making up for losses that they had experienced, particularly in the 2018 cycle. We need at least this level of gains for them in every election cycle, if we actually want to see them get closer to parity within their party.”
Many in the new class of Republican women elected to the House — which includes the QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, who toppled another Republican by portraying him as insufficiently supportive of President Trump — aren’t moderates, adding to a longstanding trend of both parties pulling further away from each other and the middle ground.
Of the nine House seats Republicans flipped in the election so far, seven were won by female candidates, a reflection of a concerted effort to elect GOP women to Congress after the election of a wave of Democratic women two years ago.
At least 15 GOP women are headed to the House, and with several races still to be called, House Republican leaders estimated they could more than double the number of women in their caucus. They figured they could add more than a dozen to the current 13.
The largest number of Republican women to serve in Congress was 25, during the 109th Congress that ended in 2007.
“This is the smashing success story of the 2020 congressional election cycle,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who launched the Elevate PAC after the 2018 midterms to recruit more Republican women to Congress, said in an interview.
“The success of the Democratic women in 2018 certainly was a wake-up call,” Conway said.
She said seeing women be successful in getting elected, but not sharing the same philosophies or policy positions, led GOP women to say, “Maybe I should try.”
Losing the House majority also presented new opportunities to have female candidates run for both open seats and to challenge first-term Democrats.
A record number of GOP women ran for federal office in the 2020 cycle. So many Republican women running and winning bids for the House can partly be attributed to serious investment within the party after the 2018 midterms, which saw a record-breaking 102 women elected to the House. Of the 36 female freshmen elected that year, just one was a Republican.
Of the 500 members, more than half are women and, according to a press release from the Biden camp, around “40 percent represent communities historically underrepresented in the federal government, including people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.”
The agency review teams are composed of professionals with backgrounds in different policy areas who help ensure a smooth transfer of power between presidential administrations.
One member of note is Shawn Skelly, who, when she joined the Obama administration in 2013, became the first transgender veteran to be appointed by a president. She is a co-founder of Out In National Security, a group of national security professionals who speak out in defense of LGBTQ+ rights. Skelly is a member of the Department of Defense team.
Both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris mentioned marginalized communities in their addresses to the nation last Saturday.
Harris, the first woman of color to be vice president-elect, paid special attention to women in her speech. She mentioned the generations of women, particularly women of color, who came before her and fought to secure the right to vote through both the 19th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.
“Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision — to see what can be unburdened by what has been — I stand on their shoulders,” Harris said.
Biden thanked gay, transgender, Latino, Asian, Native and Black Americans for helping him get elected. He is the first president-elect in history to mention the transgender community in a victory address.
“I said from the outset I wanted a campaign that represented America, and I think we did that,” Biden said in his speech. “Now, that’s what I want the administration to look like.”