Jennifer L. Lawless and Danny Hayes write: The story line emerging from Tuesday’s statewide elections in Virginia and New Jersey revolves around Donald Trump. Observers have focused on what the Democrats’ big night means for Trump’s political fortunes, the future of “Trumpism” in the Republican Party, and the 2018 midterms.
But on a night that saw a record number of female candidates, and major wins by women in Virginia, what do the results tell us about women and politics? We see three takeaways.
1. There was a Trump effect.
For a year now, Democratic women have been angry, energized and active. And last night, their dismay with the president appears to have been a key factor in both states’ election outcomes.
In Virginia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam won 61 percent of the vote among women, according to exit polls. In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy won the governor’s race thanks to 55 percent of the women’s vote. It’s not unusual for women to support Democratic candidates, but these margins proved to be a significant advantage, especially for Northam on a night when Democrats turned out to vote at high rates.
The results of a Politico/American University/Loyola Marymount University poll from May 2017 help explain why women may have so strongly backed Democratic candidates on Tuesday.
The survey found that 70 percent of Democratic women were “appalled” by Trump’s victory, more than two-thirds were “shocked” by it, and more than half reported feeling “angry” and “depressed.” Nearly three-quarters of Democratic women reported “a sick feeling” when they saw Trump on the news. The women with the most visceral reactions were roughly four times as likely to engage politically after Trump’s victory than they were before it. For Democratic women in New Jersey and Virginia, casting a ballot may have represented yet another way to express their displeasure with Trump.
The Trump effect goes beyond voters, however. Virginia and New Jersey also saw a record number of female candidates running for state legislative office. In Virginia, 53 women appeared on the ballot — an 18 percent increase from a previous record of 45. In New Jersey, the 79 women on the ballot also represented a high point, up nearly 10 percent from 72 in 2013. [Continue reading…]