IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why the 'Year of the Woman' is all about Democrats

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Amy McGrath greets supporters following her victory over Jim Gray
Amy McGrath greets supporters following her victory over Jim Gray in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District primary election on May 22 in Richmond, Kentucky.Alex Slitz / Lexington Herald-Leader via AP file

WASHINGTON — We’ve devoted a lot of ink this primary cycle to tracking the phenomenon of female candidates in the 2018 midterms. (See here and here.) And for good reason: the number of women running for office is at an all-time high, with more than 450 women filing to run for the U.S. House alone, compared with the previous record of 298 in 2012, per the Center for American Women and Politics.

But the overall quantity of women running isn’t the whole story. It’s remiss to gloss over the fact that this isn’t really a bipartisan phenomenon; the vast majority of female candidates are running as Democrats. And it also matters whether these female candidates win, both in their primaries and in their general election contests.


  • Of the 316 female House candidates who have competed in a primary so far, fewer than a quarter were Republicans (23 percent), while the remaining 77 percent were Democrats.
  • Of the 153 female House candidates who have WON a primary so far, only about one in five (22 percent) are Republicans, while the remaining 78 percent are Democrats.
  • Of the total 106 *NON-INCUMBENT* House female candidates who have won a primary so far, 23 percent are Republicans and 77 percent are Democrats.
  • Of the 35 non-incumbent House female candidates who have won a primary in a district rated by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report as potentially competitive in November (not Solid Democratic or Solid Republican), just six are Republicans, while 29 are Democrats.
  • Five non-incumbent Democratic women have won House primaries in solid Democratic districts, virtually ensuring a win in November, while no non-incumbent female Republicans have done the same yet in a solid Republican district.
  • Nine female House Republican incumbents face competitive or potentially competitive general election contests, while only two female Democratic incumbents face the same.

On the one hand, Republican female candidates are winning their primaries at rates that are actually very similar to their Democratic counterparts. So far, about 40 percent of House Democratic female non-incumbents have won their primaries, compared with about 38 percent of Republican non-incumbents.

But because Democratic women candidates outnumber Republicans so vastly, they’re on pace for a big jump when it comes to their share of the Democratic conference compared to the GOP’s in the fall. What’s more, with 29 female House Democrats as the nominees in some of the country’s marquee House races (see, for example, Amy McGrath, Chrissy Houlahan, Lizzie Fletcher, Gina Ortiz Jones and Katie Hill), the narrative about women as the face of the Democratic Party won’t be fading anytime fast.

Democrats, swing district voters, suburban women want more women in political office

Here’s another way of looking at how female candidates may make a very big difference in 2018. In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, we asked voters if they believe the country would be better off with more women in political office. About two-thirds agreed (67 percent), while just 24 percent disagreed. What’s more, about the same share of women and men agreed overall (69 percent of women and 66 percent of men.) But the biggest difference — perhaps surprisingly — wasn’t motivated by gender, but by political affiliation. Check out these subgroups:

Total % agreeing that the country would be better off with more women in political office:

  • Clinton voters: 88 percent
  • Democrats: 87 percent
  • Suburban women: 74 percent
  • Women overall: 69 percent
  • Voters in swing House districts: 68 percent
  • Total: 67 percent
  • Men overall: 66 percent
  • Independents: 58 percent
  • Republicans: 49 percent
  • Trump voters: 44 percent

The share of suburban women who’d like to see more women in political office may be particularly alarming to male incumbents in suburban districts, which happen to be some of the most competitive in the country. If you’re John Culberson (TX-7), Pete Sessions (TX-32) or Mike Bishop (MI-08) — to name just a few — and you’re running against a female Democratic challenger in a suburban swing district, that’s a tough data point.

The latest on the Supreme Court pick

As the president inches closer to his Supreme Court announcement next week, here are some of the latest headlines about his deliberations.

  • Trump interviewed four candidates for the job on Monday, per the Washington Post: Brett M. Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Amul R. Thapar and Raymond Kethledge.
  • Kavanaugh and Barrett seem to be the two candidates garnering the most attention from Trump and his team, at least so far.
  • A new NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll finds that 62 percent of Americans want the Senate to vote on the nominee before midterms.
  • NBC’s Jonathan Allen reports on the women in the running for the job.
  • POLITICO reports that liberal group Demand Justice will spend $5 million opposing Trump’s court pick.
  • SCOTUSblog is profiling some of the potential nominees here.

This Fourth of July week, here’s a striking number about Americans’ pride in the country

One of us(!) writes: “Just 47 percent of adults in the U.S. say they are "extremely proud" to be American, the lowest share since polling organization Gallup first started asking that question nearly two decades ago. And that's down ten points in just the last five years, from 57 percent in 2013. The decline has largely been among Democrats. Only 32 percent of Democrats told pollsters they are "extremely proud" to be American — down from 56 percent in 2013… The opposite trend is true among Republicans. Now, nearly three-quarters of Republicans (74 percent) say they're extremely proud to be Americans, up slightly from 71 percent in 2013.”

Happy Fourth of July! We’re back Monday

Speaking of the Fourth of July, we’ll be off for the remainder of the week for some R&R, but we’ll be back Monday with all the latest on Trump’s Supreme Court pick, the midterm landscape and more.