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By this point in 2018, you would have to be under a rock to have missed stories about the “pink wave” or “surge” of women candidates this year. Data from the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University confirms that a record number of women are running for office in 2018. But will they win?

Recent reports from NPR and Politico heed the caution I issued in January: the majority of women candidates, at least at the congressional level, are running against the tide. They are seeking to unseat incumbents, a difficult task made even harder in districts and states that are solidly aligned with the opposing party. In 2018, this narrative is particularly true for Democratic women; they account for nearly all of the increase in women’s candidacies for the U.S. House from 2016 to 2018, and the majority are running as challengers.

'Year of the Woman'

This does not mean women won’t win. Democratic women challengers defied expectations in last year’s election for the Virginia House of Delegates and they have been responsible for nearly two-thirds of the red-to-blue special election successes at the state legislative level in the past year. Still, the numeric outcomes for women in November 2018 might not live up to the hype generated in recent months. By historical comparison, for example, the number of women in Congress nearly doubled in 1992—the “Year of the Woman.”

A doubling of women in Congress is unlikely to happen after this fall’s election, despite the gains we are likely to see across levels of office and for a diversity of women in 2018. This year, I suggest we could and should evaluate women candidates’ success by a different measure. Win or lose, the women running have the power to disrupt norms of both gender and candidacy.

Source/ rest: msmagazine.com