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Article - On Campus Only

Publication Date



From the moment Donald Trump took the oath of office, women's political engagement skyrocketed. This groundswell of activism almost immediately led to widespread reporting that Trump's victory was inspiring a large new crop of female candidates across the country. We rely on a May 2017 national survey of "potential candidates" and the 2018 midterm election results to assess whether this "Trump Effect" materialized. Our analysis uncovers some evidence for it. Democrats-especially women-held very negative feelings toward Trump, and those feelings generated heightened political interest and activity during the 2018 election cycle. That activism, however, was not accompanied by a broad scale surge in women's interest in running for office. In fact, the overall gender gap in political ambition today is quite similar to the gap we've uncovered throughout the last 20 years. Notably, though, about one quarter of the Democratic women who expressed interest in running for office first started thinking about it only after Trump was elected. That relatively small group of newly interested candidates was sufficient to result in a record number of Democratic women seeking and winning election to Congress. With no commensurate increase in Republican women's political engagement or candidate emergence, however, prospects for gender parity in US political institutions remain bleak.

Recommended Citation

Lawless, Jennifer L., and Richard L. Fox. “A Trump Effect? Women and the 2018 Midterm Elections.” Forum (2194-6183), vol. 16, no. 4, Dec. 2018, pp. 665–686.