Democrats have positioned themselves to benefit from that energy by nominating female candidates in 183 House races, according to the Rutgers University Center for American Women and Politics. That easily outdistances the previous record of 120 in 2016, and is much more than the 70 women who ran in 1992. (Republicans have nominated just 52 women in House races this year.) According to the center’s calculations, Democrats have also set records with 15 female Senate nominees (including two challengers in Nevada and Arizona who are best positioned to win GOP-held seats) and 12 gubernatorial picks.
Many of these Democratic nominees are white professional women, from lawyers and college professors to small-business owners and military veterans. That compatible profile could help solidify the loyalty of college-educated white women already recoiling from Trump’s belligerent style and history of sexual-abuse allegations: Polls now routinely show that 60 percent or more of college-educated white women prefer Democrats for Congress, the biggest share ever by far. This movement away from the GOP is likely to systematically boost the Democrats’ big field of white-women nominees, many of whom are contesting white-collar suburban districts.
But this election could prove an even greater landmark for women of color. “I think what we’re seeing is the tipping point in the Democratic Party,” the longtime Democratic activist Aimee Allison says. “We are telling a new story to the country about women of color: We are the least represented and the most progressive, and this is our year.”
Allison founded a new organization called She the People that’s dedicated to electing more Democratic women of color. It is holding its inaugural meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, with 500 activists and candidates expected to attend. They have plenty of breakthroughs to celebrate. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina, and Ayanna Pressley, who’s African American, each ousted longtime, male House incumbents in Democratic primaries earlier this year. Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, running to succeed men in deep-blue seats, are on track to become the first Muslim women in Congress. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are favored to become the first Latinas elected to the House from Texas. Deb Haaland in New Mexico could become the lower chamber’s first Native American woman. In all, the Rutgers center calculates, women of color represent more than one-third of female House Democratic nominees.
The incumbent Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is the only nonwhite woman Democrats have nominated for a Senate seat this year. (The three other Democratic women of color in the Senate aren’t up for reelection until 2022.) But in governor’s races, the Democrats Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina, and Stacey Abrams, an African American, are highly competitive in the New Mexico and Georgia contests, respectively; Lupe Valdez, also a Latina, and Paulette Jordan, who’s Native American, face much tougher climbs in their respective races in Texas and Idaho.