By Katie Ziegler
This was a history-making election for female candidates up and down the ballot. At least 118 women will serve in Congress next year and there will be at least nine female governors, tying a previous record.
NCSL was particularly interested in women running for state legislative seats, and 2019 will see more women serving than ever before.
NCSL’s preliminary analysis suggests that at least 2,073 women will occupy seats in the 50 state houses, an increase of more than 190 than during the 2018 session. The nationwide share of female legislators will be around 28.1 percent, nearly 3 percentage points higher than in 2018.
There hasn’t been an increase in the share of women this large since another significant election: 1992, also deemed the “Year of the Woman.” That was when the nationwide percentage of elected women jumped from 18.4 to 20.5 percent.
Female legislators will be in the majority in the Nevada Assembly, if preliminary results hold, as they will represent 22 of 42 seats. This has only occurred once before, in 2009-2010, when 13 of 24 members in the New Hampshire state Senate were women. Nevada is also poised to have the highest share of female legislators, 47.6 percent, which is a new record for any of the 50 states.
The U.S. territory of Guam kicked off the night of election returns with resounding victories for women. Voters there elected a female governor and 10 of the 15 seats in the unicameral Legislature will be held by women next year.
Women gained seats or held steady at the same ratio in most states. Among the states that will have the highest percentages of women in 2019, in addition to Nevada, are Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Maine and Washington.
Some states had their percentage of female legislators increase by 5 percentage points or more, including Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Utah.
Overall, the majority of female state legislators are Democrats, as has been the case for many years. NCSL will update our data as races are finalized and recounts are completed, and we will post state-by-state data with party breakouts. As legislative chambers select their caucus leadership for the 2019 session we will keep track of the women serving in those roles. Stay tuned.
Katie Ziegler is the program manager of NCSL's Women's Legislative Network.