A new poll from American University shows that voters supported women candidates in the 2018 midterms because of the qualities that they were perceived to have, such as a willingness to compromise in order to achieve desired goals.
Mallory Newall, research director at Ipsos Public Affairs, told Hill.TV:
“What was really striking to me about this poll was the belief that women in politics get things done. What I mean by that is a majority of women, two-thirds or more, saying that women politicians, those that were just elected, they believe will compromise more to get things done, will work hard, will fight for women, will fight for all Americans, and that’s something I think people were probably looking for in this election.”
A record total of 116 women were elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections, 102 in the House of Representatives and 14 in the Senate. Many people believe they will have a real impact on changing the way government operates.
The American University survey, conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group (BSG), showed that 62 percent of female voters and 48 percent of male voters said that the increase in the number of women elected to Congress makes them more hopeful that they will work to overcome gridlock and get things done.
According to the poll summary published by the University, part of the reason Democrats did so well was the unpopularity of Donald Trump, but that was not the only reason:
“Results suggest that President Trump was a major factor in how women cast their votes, but not the only one. Two-thirds of female voters said that Trump influenced their voting decision in November but when asked what mattered most to them when voting for Congress, two in three women (65%) said that the merits of the individual candidate was more important to them than simply electing someone to be a check on Trump. This number was even higher among Independent women (75%), who both parties will be heavily targeting in 2020.”
“Though Trump looms large in women’s minds, if either party thinks it can run in 2020 on Trump and Trump alone, its candidates will have a hard time connecting beyond their bases – and even there, women have other priorities and values that they want addressed,” said BSG Senior Vice President Katie Connolly, who led the research. “The data suggests that women were making their voting decisions based as much on a candidate’s approach to pocket book issues – such as the costs of healthcare and prescription drugs – as on their views on Trump.”
Betsy Fischer Martin, the Executive Director of the Women & Politics Institute, said that the poll points out that women now have a unique opportunity to influence legislation and even the entire direction of the United States government. She said:
“The newly elected women from across the country have a real opportunity to use their collaborative, problem-solving leadership skills to make a difference and break through Washington’s gridlock. It’s important that they know their female constituents will be supportive of their efforts at bipartisanship.”
This survey, coming after the November 6 Blue Wave election results, is very important. It shows that the priorities of women, such as expanding healthcare and ending corruption, will find support among the broader electorate. This will give the new members of Congress the courage and the confidence they need to really make things happen and bring much-needed changes to American politics.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.