Wave or Trend

Female Candidates in Pennsylvania Elections in the Trump Era


  • Joshua J. Weikert




The 2018 elections saw a record number of women running for elected office in the United States and in Pennsylvania, but whether this represents a temporary wave or a lasting trend is not clear. Using a combination of survey data; interviews of new candidates, elected officeholders, and party officials; and election data, this study examines the gender equality gains of 2018 in Pennsylvania’s legislature in historical and political context. The data provide evidence that formal recruitment of female candidates was common (but not universal), that the number of women running for and winning office increased by historic (and not just significant) levels, and that a persistent and consistent motivation was discernible in large portions of the candidate body. Survey measures of female candidate persistence—whether they plan to run again or recruit new candidates—also indicate that women intend to remain similarly active after the 2018 election cycle has come and gone.