Record numbers of women have entered politics since 2016, but there is still an…
Advantages for Republican Women in 2020
2020 is already a record-breaking year for Republican women. More than 200 GOP women have filed to run for the U.S. House, beating the previous high of 122. 55 women have already won their House primaries, with many races still upcoming. Barbara Lee Family Foundation research shows that Republican women have a number of advantages with voters.
Republican women have benefits in several key policy areas. As the global health pandemic continues to affect the country, the economy is a top concern for voters. GOP women have historically held an advantage over Democratic candidates on the economy and taxes. Showcasing this strength as their communities reopen during the pandemic is especially important. Traditionally, voters have given an edge to Democratic candidates over Republicans when it comes to education and health care, two issues that are critically important during this moment. Fortunately, Republican women can harness the advantage women candidates have on this issue over men, which neutralizes the disadvantages of their party affiliation. Finally, national security is a traditionally difficult issue for women candidates because of the stereotype that women aren’t strong enough to be commander-in-chief. Our research shows Republican women perform as well as Democratic men on this issue.
Having clear, strong policies that are communicated to constituents is especially important during a crisis. 2020 has already seen several crises, from protests to natural disasters to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Republican women have advantages over Democratic women when it comes to handling terrorism and economic recessions – likely because these are strong policy areas for GOP women. In particular, Republican voters view GOP women as better than Republican men at listening to affected populations, bringing together groups, and reducing the impact – all critical elements of minimizing a crisis.
Beyond policies, GOP women have a few key traits that resonate with voters. They are seen as political outsiders, which is important at this time when being perceived as “different” can be helpful for women candidates. They are also seen as more confident when compared to Democratic men, which is crucial for women candidates. Confidence is key for voters to view a woman as likable and qualified, which is non-negotiable.
There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives, but only 101 women are currently serving. With more Republican women running than ever before, using their advantages strategically could result in a huge payoff this November – and bring greater gender parity to Congress.