By Joseph Paul
A record number of women have secured major party nominations for the U.S. House of Representatives, setting the stage for a potential “tipping point” during the 2018 midterm election.
“I anticipate this is what elections will look like for years to come,” said Nadia E. Brown, an associate professor of political science at Purdue University and author of the book “Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making.”
“There’s a much more diversified electorate, which is really exciting,” Brown added. “The nation is moving to be a much more diverse place, and this might be the tipping point of what a coming election might look like.”
After primary elections in Kansas, Michigan and Missouri, the number of women who won major party nominations for the House reached 168, surpassing the previous record of 167, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
“Thinking about white voters in these mainstream, majority-white districts now choosing between two candidates who are people of color or women of color is a new phenomenon in political science,” Brown said.
The movement was thrust into the spotlight when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated incumbent candidate Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary election for the District 14 House seat. The victory came after a record number of women filed to run this year for the House, according to the Associated Press.
Although progress has come in waves, obstacles will linger for women, particularly women of color such as Ocasio-Cortez, who seek political office now and in the future, Brown said.
“Some challenges remain consistent,” she said. “Women of color have a harder time fundraising, they have a harder time getting the attention of political parties and being seen as viable candidates.
“On the upside, women of color are forming their own organizations and political action committees to elect other women of color and fundraise for them,” Brown continued. “They are serving as foot soldiers, door-knocking, canvasing and campaigning, as well as using social media as a method to elect Black women. Black women are going outside the box and doing it themselves.”