Women in Utah politics

We can do it!I see a stat often quoted that women win “as often” as men when running for political office. I’ve done some digging and there are also plenty of studies largely looking at federal races, where women are “better qualified” then their male counterparts but they win less often.

There is no question that Utah is at a low-point for female representation on Utah’s Capitol Hill. In January 2014, we ranked 49 out of 50 and after November’s election, we lost even more women. In fact, we’re at the lowest point in decades.

Dr Susan Madsen from Utah Valley University has written and lectured about the status of women in Utah politics. Women who are politically active in Utah consistently speak to the need for more women to be involved. I agree! We are missing important contributions when we don’t have women at the table.

Some assert that it’s because women are not running that they are not winning and there is truth in that. We need more women to run.

But it’s more than that. Women are running in Utah – but they are not winning.

This election cycle, we had 4 Congressional seats up for election, with female candidates in 3 of them. As many people know, Mia Love won the one Utah Congressional seat now held by a woman.

There was one statewide race for Attorney General. No women filed and Sean Reyes held on to that.

There were 14 Senate races, with 1 completely uncontested. Of the remaining 13 races, 11 had female candidates, 3 won and 2 of the 3 were incumbents.

Out of 75 House races, there were 8 completely uncontested.
Of the remaining 67 races, 35 had female candidates, 10 won, 3 Republicans and 7 Democrats, with 7 incumbents winning re-election (1 Republican and 6 Democrats).

Out of 89 state legislative races, 1 state-wide and 4 federal, we have 14 women who won their elections, or just under 14%.

Out of 80 contested state races, women ran in 46 or 57%.

Of those 46 races, women won 13 seats, or 28%, just over 1/4 of the time.

So yes, women need to run more often. It would be great if every race had a female candidate or multiple female candidates.

But even when they do run, they are only winning just over one-fourth of the time. It’s even worse to be a Republican woman. Out of 61 Republicans in the Utah House, there are only 3 women, or 4.8%.

That needs to change.

Comments

  1. Most of the women who lost did so to entrenched incumbents in a heavily R or D district. The winning/losing percentage seems to have much more to do with incumbency and party ID than it does gender.