A record number of women have been elected to state legislatures nationwide, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
Next year, at least 2,019 (1363D, 637R, 11NP, 4I, 4P) women will serve in state legislative offices around the country. This includes at least 1,743 (1205D, 528R, 2NP, 4I, 4P) women who won on November 6th, as well as 276 seats held by women legislators who were not up for re-election this year. 185 women candidates are in races that remain too close to call. The previous record for women serving simultaneously in state legislatures was 1,879 (1,144D, 708R, 14NP, 1WFP, 7I, 5PRG), set in 2018.
In 2019, the proportion of seats in state legislatures held by women will be at least 27.3%, an increase from the current level of 25.4%. The proportion of women in state legislatures has stubbornly hovered between 23 and 25 percent for more than a decade.
"We are very encouraged by these results. This is the largest increase in women's representation in state legislatures we've seen in some time, after more than a decade of relative stagnation," said CAWP Director Debbie Walsh. "The only question that remains is whether 2018 was a one-off or a new norm."
482 (306D, 165R, 11NP) women will serve in upper chambers next year, beating the previous record of 450; there are still 39 candidates remaining in races too close to call. Meanwhile, 1,537 (1,057D, 472R, 4I, 4P) women will serve in lower houses, beating the previous record of 1,425; there are still 146 candidates remaining in races too close to call.
Women in the Democratic Party made sizable gains in state legislatures this year, increasing their overall representation in state legislatures by 219 seats so far. Democratic women have made gains in representation in both upper and lower chambers. Republican women, by contrast, will see their representation in state legislatures decline next year. Their share of state house seats will decline regardless of results in uncalled races, and the maximum number of seats that Republican women might hold in state senates matches the current number.
No state legislature as a whole has ever reached parity or majority-women status in history. In this election, Nevada has already set a new milestone for women's representation in a state legislature, with women slated to hold at least 44.4% of seats next year and the possibility for more gains from races yet to be called. Colorado, meanwhile, has the potential to pull past Nevada to claim the top spot, depending on outstanding race calls in both states.
Only one state legislative chamber has ever reached or surpassed parity, when 13 of 24 seats in the New Hampshire Senate were held by women in 2009-2010. Nevada's State Assembly and Colorado's State House have the potential to hit 50% women if currently uncalled contests are won by women.
Women will make up more than 40% of state legislators in at least three states (Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon), with final proportions as yet undetermined as races continue to be called. Meanwhile, eight states will see women's proportion in their legislatures increase by more than 5 percentage points: Michigan (+10.1%), Oklahoma (+8.7%), Oregon (+7.8%), Alaska (+6.7%), Nevada (+6.3%), Rhode Island (+6.2%), Pennsylvania (+5.9%), and Connecticut (+5.9%). These increases may yet climb as results continue to be determined.
The work of tracking women's successes in state legislatures is just beginning. Stay tuned to CAWP for new information added to this release, our updated state rankings, and a status report for women of color in state legislatures.
*This release will update as results are determined. For the most updated version on our website.
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers-New Brunswick, is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women's political participation. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about women's participation in politics and government and to enhance women's influence and leadership in public life. CAWP's education and outreach programs translate research findings into action, addressing women's under-representation in political leadership with effective, imaginative programs serving a variety of audiences. As the world has watched Americans considering female candidates for the nation's highest offices, CAWP's over four decades of analyzing and interpreting women's participation in American politics have provided a foundation and context for the discussion.