In the year since Donald Trump was sworn into office, a record number of American women have launched runs for political office, TIME reported Friday. By almost any metric, the number of female candidates in 2018 has skyrocketed compared to years past, and TIME celebrated by putting some of those women on the cover of its latest issue. In a Friday morning tweet, Hillary Clinton congratulated the women running for office for the first time, and said she was "heartened" by their decisions to jump into the political fray.
"I'm so heartened by all of you," Clinton wrote in a retweet of TIME's new cover. "Onward!"
According to TIME, 79 women are exploring gubernatorial runs in 2018; if all of them commit to running, there will be twice as many female candidates for governor in 2018 as there were in 1994, the previous record-setting year. There are also twice as many women running for the U.S. Senate in 2018 as there were in 2016, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The number of women running for the House of Representatives jumped from 181 to 354 between 2016 and 2018 — a surge accounted for almost entirely due to an increase in female Democratic candidates.
Is this spike in interest due to the election of Trump — a man who once boasted that he could "grab 'em by the p*ssy" with impunity — to the presidency? Was it the historic nature of seeing a woman, Clinton, win a major party's presidential nomination for the first time in U.S. history that inspired these female candidates? Was it a combination of both?
“It was Donald Trump and the way that he sort of embraced masculinity, but even more specifically, misogyny, in his rhetoric and behavior,” Kelly Dittmar from the Center for American Women and Politics, told the Times in December. “To make a statement against that and the policies he espoused sort of pushed [women] over the edge to not just think about running, but to put their names out there."
Charlotte Alter, the author of the TIME article, said in a tweet that "most women I interviewed for this story said they are running because Trump won AND because Hillary lost."
"They are avenging her defeat," she added.
Whatever the reason, it's clear that something has shifted in a big way. Between 2015 and 2016, about 900 women reached out to Emily's List, an organization that recruits pro-choice women to run for office, to express interest in political runs. Since Trump's election, over 26,000 women have contacted the organization, according to TIME.
“We have never seen anything like what we have seen over the last 12 months,” Emily's List president Stephanie Schriock told the New York Times in December. “If you could underline that four times, that’s what I mean.”
It is worth noting that, the spike in female candidates notwithstanding, men will nevertheless account for 75 percent of candidates in 2018, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Still, even this is a more equitable gender distribution than the current Congress, which is 81 percent male.
Clinton herself is playing a role in this phenomenon as well. In May, she founded Onward Together, a foundation devoted to getting more progressives to run for office. In practice, Onward Together works to support and raise money for five existing progressive organizations; one of them is Emerge America, which focuses on recruiting female candidates and increasing the share of women in elected office.
“[Clinton's] loss was a true ‘f*ck you’ to women,” Amanda Litman, who ran email outreach for the Clinton campaign, told TIME. “You just can’t turn that off.”
Disclosure: Hillary Clinton's son-in-law Marc Mezvinsky joined Social Capital, an investor in Bustle Digital Group, in mid 2017 and joined the Board of Bustle Digital Group in early 2018.