By Rebecca Halpryn
Women Making History
Prior to the 2022 general election, only ten women across nine states and one territory held the gubernatorial position. Nine of these women ran as the incumbent candidates in the 2022 election – all nine gubernatorial incumbent women won (Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon did not run for reelection due to term limits). Four other states, Arkansas, Arizona, Massachusetts and Oregon, elected women governors, setting a record for the most women serving as governors concurrently.
Nationally, prior to the 2022 midterm elections, 23 states had never elected a woman as governor, 16 of which held gubernatorial elections during the 2022 midterm elections. Women were on the ballot for the 2022 gubernatorial race in 12 of these 16 states, and nominated as either a Republican or Democratic candidate in six (Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio). Women won the gubernatorial election in three states, Arkansas, Massachusetts and New York, bringing the number of states that have never elected a woman to the gubernatorial role down to 20.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) made history in 2022 as the first woman to be governor of Arkansas. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) is the first woman elected as lieutenant governor in Arkansas. Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) of New York made history as the first elected governors of their respective states (both states appointed women as governors previously). Arkansas and Massachusetts are the first states to have women serving concurrently in both the governor and lieutenant governor positions. Additionally, both Healey of Massachusetts and Tina Kotek (D) of Oregon made national history simultaneously as the first openly lesbian candidates to be elected governors in the US.
Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands also held gubernatorial elections in 2022. The Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands have never elected a woman to the gubernatorial position. Christina Sablan made history as the first woman in the Northern Mariana Islands to be nominated by a major party for the gubernatorial role. In Guam, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero made history in 2018 as the first woman elected to governor. Guerrero won reelection in 2022.
Election Results So far
As of Nov. 15, 2022, Ballotpedia has projected winners for 92.1% of the 6,514 state-level races in the 2022 general election. Data from Ballotpedia shows that 35.5% of state-level race candidates are women. Of these women, 45.3% were incumbents, 7.1% ran for positions in the executive branch, 5.0% ran for positions in the judicial branch and 88.0% ran for positions in the legislative branch. In just under half (48.6%) of the state level races, at least one candidate identified as a woman. Overall, women won 34.1% of all projected state level races and won 71.5% of all projected state level races with at least one woman on the ballot. 46.1% of women incumbent candidates won reelection.
(NOTE: gender information for 12.9% of state level candidates was unavailable. Gender information for all candidates within a race was unavailable for 1.7% of all state races. These candidates and races were excluded from all analyses).
Gubernatorial elections took place in 36 states and three territories in 2022. Women won 12 states and one territory out of the 29 gubernatorial races with a woman candidate on the ballot (27 states and two territories) and accounted for 31.8% of the gubernatorial candidates on the ballot. The number of states and territories with a female governor increased from 10 to 13.
Of the 4,464 lower legislature races across 49 states and three territories, just under half (47.9%) had at least one woman candidate on the ballot.
35.2% of these candidates were women of which 46.9% were incumbents.
Women won 72.6% of the 1,938 projected lower legislature races with a woman candidate and 33.9% of all projected lower legislature races.
96.9% of women incumbents in projected races won.
In the upper legislature, nearly half (48.0%) of the 1,278 races across 46 states and two territories, had at least one woman running on the ballot, and women made up 34.2% of the candidates. Of these women, 40.4% were the incumbent candidate.
Women won 69.2% of the 1,193 projected state senate races with a woman candidate and 32.4% of all projected upper legislature races.
96.3% of women incumbents in projected races were reelected.
What These Results Tell Us
Overall, data from projected races indicate that fewer women than men, about one-in-three candidates, appeared on the ballot in the 2022 general elections. Women won just over one-in-three races across all state level races. When looking just at the races that include at least one woman on the ballot, women perform better, winning about seven-in-ten races. Women perform particularly well in state judicial races and in the races in which they appear on the ballot, perform worst in state executive races.