Why Can’t the GOP Elect Women to Office?

Conservative PACs desperately trying to get more Republican women elected have their work cut out for them

Andrea González-Ramírez
GEN
Published in
7 min readSep 17, 2019

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Donald Trump holds a Cabinet meeting at the White House on January 2, 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Every election cycle Republican groups try to elect more women, and every cycle in which Democrats surge into power they fall further behind.

In 1993, after the original Year of the Woman, there were 14 Republican women in Congress, and 40 Democratic ones.

In 2007, after Democrats retook the House, there were 25 Republicans and 63 Democrats.

In 2019, after another Democratic wave year, there were 21 Republicans and 106 Democrats.

Congress is still far from achieving gender parity, but it’s Democrats that have made most of the progress in getting it anywhere close. Democratic women make up 83% of women elected to Congress, and if women were elected only at the rate Republican women are, all of Congress would still be about 4% female-even less than it was in 1992.

For conservative women, it’s still the 1980s.

The persistent inability of the GOP to elect women has stymied generations of political operatives and would-be politicians. But that hasn’t stopped conservative women from trying. And in 2020, a fresh group of faces will try again to roll the rock up the hill in the face of the substantial structural and political obstacles that have made the political distribution of women in the parties so enduringly unequal.

“The current situation is not sustainable,” says Kodiak Hill-Davis, the political director of Republican Women for Progress. “It is not representative of America. You’re not getting the diversity of voices in the room where you can craft policy outcomes.”

Republicans in Congress gained only one new female member in the 2018 midterm elections, West Virginia Rep. Carol Miller. Democratic women, by contrast, won more than three dozen House races. Republicans also lost nearly half of their female representation in the House, dropping from 23 to 13 congresswomen as the more moderate districts willing to elect GOP women fell to Democratic challengers. The numbers in the Senate are better, but still trail the Democrats: Only eight out of the 53 GOP senators are women, as…

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Andrea González-Ramírez
GEN
Writer for

Award-winning Puerto Rican journalist. Senior Writer at New York Magazine’s The Cut. Formerly GEN, Refinery29, and more. Read my work: https://www.thecut.com/