Now that party primaries are settled in Iowa, 84 female candidates will be running on this November’s ballot — and that’s a record. It’s a 29 percent increase in women candidates from just two years ago.
The two women who won Iowa congressional races Tuesday also won by large margins. Dianne Bystrom, an Iowa State University professor who leads ISU’s Center for Women and Politics, has been watching this year’s primary races.
“What we’re seeing across the country with women running is that they’re not only winning, but they’re winning by these impressive margins in races where there’s two or three other candidates,” Bystrom said during an interview with Radio Iowa.
Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque won the Democratic Party’s nomination in the first congressional district with two-thirds of the total vote in a four-way race. Cindy Axne of Des Moines was running against two male competitors — and won with 58 percent of the vote.
“Really impressed with their margins of victory,” Bystrom said. “I was up until after one to see what was going on for the secretary of state’s office on the Democratic side and it was a little closer there than I thought it might be, but — certainly — great wins for women.”
Democratic Primary voters nominated Deidre DeJear to run against incumbent Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate in November. If DeJear is elected, she would be the first African American to serve in statewide office.
Bystrom said research is showing 2018 voters are more inclined to vote for a female candidate.
“They see a woman as more honest, more collaborative, more of a change agent and I think certainly women have been using that to their advantage in a number of these primaries,” Bystrom said. “…It’s not only happening just in Iowa, it’s happening in other states as well…Women are winning by these large margins or they’re winning when they weren’t expected to win.”
Iowa’s political parties can fill open slots on the ballot before the August deadline for designating General Election candidates — so there may be more than 84 female candidates on Iowa’s fall ballot.