POLITICS
08/22/2018 01:22 pm ET

Poll: Majority Of Americans Think More Female Candidates For Congress Is Good

Though women make up half of the population, they currently comprise just 20 percent of Congress.

The 2018 midterms have seen a record-breaking number of women launch campaigns for Congress. More than half of Americans are happy to see the uptick in female candidates, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

The poll, released Tuesday, found that 61 percent of Americans believe it’s good that more women are running for U.S. Congress this year than in previous elections. Five percent reported the increase as bad, while 33 percent were neutral.

Though women make up half of the population, they currently comprise just 20 percent of Congress. But amid a surge in activism following the 2016 election, the rise of the Me Too movement and what some have dubbed another Year of the Woman, a record 530 women filed to run for Congress this year, smashing the 2012 record of 298 women who filed.

As of Aug. 22, more than 200 women have won their primaries, according to Politico. However, there’s still a long road ahead to earning a seat at the Capitol — most of the women running are Democrats, and several of them are competing in strongly Republican districts.

Pew conducted the online survey of 4,587 people between June 19 and July 2. 

The poll found that women were more favorable toward female candidates than men by 68 percent to 54 percent. Opinions were also divided among party lines, with Democrats more in favor: 80 percent of Democrat and Democratic-leaning respondents said the trend was a good thing, while 39 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents said the same.

Americans are undecided on whether more women in Congress would lead to more effectiveness, transparency and civility in politics, the poll found. More than half of respondents said more female Congress members would not change those problems.

Following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, the poll revealed that more Americans would like to see a woman as commander in chief. Forty-five percent said they would want to elect a female president, up from 38 percent in 2014.

The rise in female candidates has not been limited to Congressional campaigns. There are currently eight sitting female governors, though the number could increase after the midterms. This year’s 14 female gubernatorial candidates who won their primaries broke the previous record of 10, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

EMILY’s List, which helps elect women who support female reproductive rights, said they have heard from more women than ever.

“Women are fired up in a way we have never seen before. They can’t wait to take action,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a statement earlier this year. “This historic energy is why EMILY’s List has heard from over 34,000 women in just 15 months who want to run for office – not just this year, but in elections to come.”

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