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256 women won House and Senate primaries, a huge new record

256 women won House and Senate primaries, a huge new record
Posted at 10:22 AM, Sep 16, 2018

With primaries completed and few races left to call, an historic number of women will appear on general election ballots in congressional and Senate races. Their chances vary, with many women running in toss-up races and a large number running in districts where they aren't likely to win.

With the final primary in New York this week settled after Cynthia Nixon's loss in the New York governor's race primary, the November ballots are just about set. A few races haven't been officially called, but the ballot won't change substantially, especially for women. This is a look at the record aspiring female politicians so far.

A total of 256 women have qualified for the November ballot in House or Senate races so far -- 197 Democrats and 59 Republican candidates, according to an analysis of election results. There are 234 women running for the House and 22 for the Senate.

First, it's clear that Democrats are nominating more women than Republicans. The Democratic party has made it a priority to nominate women and have made women candidates a part of their platform in midterm races.

While there is a clear opportunity for women to make historic gains in Congress, many of them are running in competitive districts or districts that solidly lean toward the other party. Here is a look at where women have won primaries and their potential chances of victory using CNN's Key Race ratings.


Of the 234 women running for the House, 182 are Democrats and 52 are Republicans.

Democrats have broken their nomination record for the House. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, the previous record of Democratic nominees was 120 in 2016. Among the record breaking Democratic women who have won primaries the House, roughly a third of their candidates are running in races rated in their favor and more than a third are running in races with a steep uphill battle: 63 Democrats are running in Solid Democratic districts and 70 Democrats are running in Solid Republican districts.

There are 74 Democratic and 16 Republican women in Lean, Likely or Solid territory for their parties in the House. If all of these women in districts either safe or leaning toward their party win, that would already be a net of 6 women lawmakers more than the 84 currently in the House. Republican women were just shy of breaking their nomination record for the House -- leaving the record at 53 nominees set in 2004, according to CAWP.

Just eight of the Republican women on November House ballots so far are in safe Solid Republican territory. Of the 22 Republican women running to challenge an incumbent, all but one is in a district rated as Solid Democratic by CNN, with the one running in a Lean Democratic district.

There are 17 women running in districts that CNN has rated as Toss Up. Thirteen of these women are Democrats and four are Republican.

Democratic female incumbents began their elections in a strong position. Currently, 52 of the 54 Democratic incumbents who won their primaries are running in Solid Democratic districts. The other two are in Likely Democratic districts. Still, there are slightly more Democratic women running in Solid Republican districts than in Solid Democratic districts.

There are 33 open races (races with no incumbents) featuring Democratic women and 11 of these are rated as Solid Republican by CNN. Nine of these open seats are rated as Solid Democratic. Also, Democratic women are in four Likely/Lean Republican races, eight Likely/Lean Democratic races, and one Toss Up race.

For Republican women running in open seats, the story is slightly different, with no Republican women on the ballot in open Solid Republican seats. Four of the 13 open races with Republican women running in the House are rated by CNN as Solid Democratic and five rated as Lean or Likely Democratic.

Of the 117 challengers set to run for the House in November, 95 are Democrats and 22 are Republicans. In addition, there are 52 women running against women in 26 House races.


Twenty-two nominees, 15 Democratic women and seven Republican women will be on the ballot in November for the Senate.

Each party broke their previous nomination record for the Senate, both of which had held since 2012, according to CAWP.

Not only have a record number of women won primaries for the Senate, a record number of women will face off against each other in the Senate; as CNN has previously reported, there will be six Senate races where both nominees are women, which beats the previous three races in 2012.

Six women are challenging an incumbent, 12 are incumbents, and four are running for open seats.

The Democrats are spread across race types, with two in Solid Republican races, six in Solid Democratic races, three in Likely/Lean Democratic races, one in a Lean Republican race, and three in Toss Up races. The Toss Up states for the Senate with Democratic women running are Missouri (incumbent Claire McCaskill), Nevada (challenger Jacky Rosen) and North Dakota (incumbent Heidi Heitkamp).

Of the seven Republican women who have made it to the November ballot, one is in a Solid Republican race, two are in Likely/Lean Democratic races, two are in Solid Democratic races, and two are in Toss Ups.


There are 16 women running for governor in November, 12 Democrats and four Republicans. There are four challenge races where women are running, and all are challenging male incumbents: Andria Tupola (R) in Hawaii, Molly Kelly (D) in New Hampshire, Lupe Valdez (D) in Texas, and Christine Hallquist (D) in Vermont.