2018 Election Trend: The “Wave of the Woman”
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A Sioux Falls political science professor is calling it “the wave of the woman.” A record number of women are breaking a glass ceiling and running for office.
We know you’ll find more women on the ballot, but are the odds stacked against these political pioneers?
According Augustana University political science professor Emily Wanless, the trick is getting women to run in the first place. Women tend to only feel confident running if they’re overly qualified for the position.
”Studies time and time again show that women win rate as men when they do emerge, that when they do emerge they typically tend to be more qualified than the men that run, but for whatever reason, they just don’t run,” said Wanless.
Wanless says when a woman takes office, there’s a trickle down effect. For example, Iowa has a woman governor, Kim Reynolds. This is expected to inspire a higher number of women to run.
South Dakota has never hasn’t had a woman governor yet. If republican gubernatorial candidate Kristi Noem wins, she’ll be the Rushmore state’s first.
“If women need kind of additional encouragement to see themselves as viable candidates, in South Dakota that reassurance isn’t exactly there from party leadership,” said Wanless.
However, her conservative affiliation may be difficult for women voters to relate to. Wanless ays women voters tend to self-identify more with democratic issues, like education. Wanless says that’s the logic behind Noem’s recent campaign where she mentions education/
According to the most recent polls, it’ll be a tougher race for Noem than initially expected.
“Which isn’t surprising, to be honest,” said Wanless. “I think initially a lot of people’s gut reaction is like ‘oh, women will vote for women’ just because they’re women and what we know about voter behavior is that gender is often seen a que secondary to ideology.”
Noem isn’t the only woman running for office. The number of women running for office at all levels is something Susan Kroger has never seen before.
“Personally, I went to probably 80 coffees with different women who were interested in running,” said Kroger.
Kroger founded LEAD South Dakota, a non-partisan group formed after the 2016 election. Its goal? To get women in political leadership positions at all levels.
Kroger says most of the women she knows running in the Sioux Falls and Brookings areas have their eyes on the state legislature.
“Let’s not let Pierre become Washington,“ said Kroger. “So, we have an opportunity here to elect new and vibrant people who really represent their community.”
Kroger’s inspiration? Her daughter.
“She is the reason I’m doing this,” said Kroger.
According to Kroger’s research as an SDSU doctoral candidate studying gender and policy, South Dakota has the highest percentage of progressive women candidates based on state population.