More women and more Black women than ever ran for Congress in 2020, but they still lost ground
Sharon Austin, University of Florida
In 2020, Black women set a new record — 117 entered primaries for the House and 13 for the U.S. Senate, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
In total, 643 women were candidates in congressional primary and general elections, including a record number of Asian or Pacific Islander, Latina, Middle Eastern or North African and Native American women.
Still, women ended up losing eight seats in Congress. In 2018, the nation elected 127 women — and 48 women of color — to the House and Senate. This year, that dropped to 117 women and 45 women of color.
Throughout my career as a political science professor, I’ve studied women’s representation in mayoral, congressional, gubernatorial and presidential elections.
Here’s my look at the female demographics of Congress following the 2020 elections.
Freshmen no more
Many of the women first elected to Congress in 2018 retained their seats.
All four members of “the Squad” were reelected. These women — Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib — are Democratic women of color known for their progressive policies, including the Green New Deal.
Also reelected were Illinois Democrat Lauren Underwood, winner of a predominantly white and Republican district in 2018; Jahana Hayes, the first Black woman to represent Connecticut; and Georgia’s Lucy McBath, winner in a district that had been held by Republicans for almost four decades.
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