(Courthouse News Service) The majority of Americans believe it’s good that more women than ever before are running for Congress this year, although there’s no consensus on whether the government would actually do a better job of dealing with the country’s problems if there were more women in office, the Pew Research Center reported Wednesday.
Sixty-one percent of Americans say it’s a good thing that more women are running for Congress this year than in the past, with women and Democrats more likely to say this than men or Republicans, according to a survey of more than 4,500 people conducted in June and July.
Sixty-eight percent of women believe that the increase in women candidates is good, and 27 percent say it’s “neither good nor bad,” while 54 percent of men view the increase as a positive development and 39 percent says it’s neither.
Among Democrats, large majorities of men and women say it’s a good thing that more women are running for elective office. Seventy-five percent of men and 83 percent of women who are Democrats say it’s good, while 34 percent of Republican men and 45 percent of Republican women said the same.
Only 5 percent of American adults overall say it’s bad that more women are running for office, with Republican men (12 percent) being the most likely to say so.
In open-ended responses, 20 percent of Americans suggested that more women are running for office now than in the past because it’s “time for a change because the people who have been in charge, particularly men, haven’t done a good job,” according to the Pew report.
Sixteen percent of Americans attributed the increase to societal changes that have given women more opportunities in general, while only 9 percent pointed to President Donald Trump as the reason why more women are running for office this year.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, record numbers of women are running for Congress in 2018.
Fifty-four women filed to run for the U.S. Senate this year, beating the previous record of 40 women candidates for Senate in 2016, and 476 women filed to run for the U.S. House of Representatives this year, beating the old record of 298 set in 2012.
After primaries, there are still 29 women in the running for Senate, and 271 running for a seat in the House.
The Pew survey found that although Americans are generally supportive of the increase in women candidates, there is little consensus as to whether Congress would do a better job if there were more women in either chamber.
Nearly 40 percent of Americans say that Congress would do a better job of dealing with the country’s problems if there were more women lawmakers, while 53 percent say the number of women in office would have no effect on the legislative branch’s effectiveness.
Americans responded similarly when asked whether the tone of political debate in Washington would be more respectful with more women in office, or whether there would be more openness and transparency in government. Thirty-six percent say the tone would be more respectful, and 34 percent say there would be more openness in government.
The Pew report also found that a growing share of Americans say they personally hope the U.S. will elect a woman as president in their lifetime. Forty-five percent say this, up from 38 percent who said the same in 2014.
Democrats (63 percent) are much more likely to say that they hope to see a woman as president than Republicans (24 percent). Perhaps not surprisingly, women (51 percent) are also more likely to say this than men (38 percent).
Regardless of what Americans want, the majority (68 percent) say they expect to see a woman president in their lifetime. However, this is down slightly from 2014, when 73 percent of Americans said they would live to see a female president.