It’s unclear just how historic the 2018 primaries have been for Black women who are running for Congress.
There’s no conclusive data on how many Black female candidates filed to run for Congress in the past to determine if 2018 is a record year, Kelly Dittmar, a political science assistant professor at Rutgers University, told NewsOne.
“What we do know is that there are a record number of women running, and of those women, there’s a significant portion of women of color, including Black women,” she explained. “We haven’t collected that data, and I don’t know of anyone else who has—otherwise we would use it.”
Dittmar, a scholar at the Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), said this is the first year that the center has kept race data for the primaries. In the past, data on race was collected on nominees. It’s likely true that the 2018 primary season has been a record setting year for Black women, but that’s not possible to determine, she added.
Accurately determining race figures during the primary season is no easy task.
“For race data, we do self-identified race, which means we have to go to every candidate and ask them how they identify. We don’t just look at pictures and make assumptions. And that’s why in the past we’ve done it once nominees win their primary election,” Dittmar explained.
So far, CAWP determined that Black women represent about 15 percent of female congressional candidates in the primaries and about 17 percent of the female nominees.
Once the primaries are over, CAWP will be able to compare the number of Black female nominees for Congress with nominee data from the past.