Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 2018, Democrats set a record with 356 women running for House seats. After the election, the number of women Democrats serving in that body rose from 64 to 89. Meanwhile, the number of women Republicans serving in the House plummeted from 23 to 13.

Recently the Center for American Women in Politics announced the number of women running for House seats in 2020. While still not on par with Democrats, Republicans set a historic record with 224 women running, an 86 percent increase over 2018. As of Tuesday, 86 of those women lost their primary, with 141 still in the running. Eleven Republican women are running as incumbents, with 20 vying for open seats and 110 seeking to challenge an incumbent. Of course, the odds are stacked against that last group.

The dilemma some of these candidates face is whether to be loyal to the man at the top of the ticket.

[M]any of the women who have won GOP primaries have a difficult road ahead, especially when they’ve had to profess support for President Donald Trump to win the nomination but may face suburban voters not so hot on the President in a general election.

Only one of the 12 women on the highest level of the NRCC’s Young Guns list — Texas’ Beth Van Duyne — is in a seat trending toward Republicans, according to ratings from Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, who’s a CNN contributor. Three of the 12 women are running in Solid Democratic districts.

Conway, the executive director of VIEW PAC, worries that touting women running in unwinnable races will only contribute to the narrative that GOP women are falling short if they don’t win this fall. “That’s setting us up to fail,” she said…

Mary Miller in Illinois’ 15th District and Lauren Boebert, who upset five-term incumbent Scott Tipton in Colorado’s 3rd District on Tuesday, are the only new women who have won GOP nominations in solid Republican seats so far.

Lauren Boebert is the latest Republican candidate who has expressed support for QAnon and related conspiracy theories, so in a district rated R+6 by Cook Political Report, Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush actually has a shot at the race.

According to Politico, things look even worse for Republican women in the Senate.

Senate Republicans could lose nearly half of the women currently in their caucus come November after recently making painstaking gains — the latest potential blow to the party in the Trump era. Out of nine Senate GOP women serving, four face highly competitive races this year in Arizona, Maine, Georgia and Iowa…

The four GOP women with difficult races include veteran centrists like Sen. Susan Collins, who is expected to take on Maine state House speaker Sara Gideon, as well as conservative freshman Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa who faces businesswoman Theresa Greenfield. Meanwhile, McSally is in a tough race against Mark Kelly, a former astronaut married to former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), and Loeffler faces an intraparty challenge from GOP Rep. Doug Collins and a fight against Democrat Raphael Warnock.

It’s pretty clear that 2020 will not be the “year of the woman” for Republicans, even with a record number running. While there is some truth to the old saying from Tip O’Neill about all politics being local, having a president like Donald Trump at the top of the ticket has turned the gender gap into a chasm.

In his surprise 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by either of the two major parties, Trump won 52% of votes cast by men but only 41% of those cast by women. That gender gap of 11 percentage points tied the biggest recorded in the four decades it’s been tracked in U.S. presidential elections. Trump entered office with an approval rating of 50% among men and 38% among women — another substantial gap, and one that has remained in the double digits during his presidency. A large gender gap drove the outcome of the 2018 U.S. midterm election, when Democrats captured control of the House of Representatives. Some early national polling taken in April, right as Joseph Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee, indicated Trump could suffer a record-setting gap among female voters in the range of 14 to 19 percentage points in the general election.

Susan, a former GOP state legislator from Wisconsin, explains her view of the Republican Party and their representatives in Congress.

When we talk about women voters, the conversation is often limited to issues like reproductive choice and equal pay. It is true that women have tended to support Democrats because of those issues. But I think Susan is on to something when she talks about her concern for the lack of morals in the Republican Party these days. A man who brags about being able to “grab p*ssy” became a president who separated children from their parents and put them in cages. Throughout all of that, he has lied almost 20,000 times since taking office while Republicans in Congress simply enabled him. A party that is only interested in the power of dominance and has no moral compass will never be one where women prevail.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.