Even though the Iowa caucus is still 13 weeks away, the unprecedented number of women announcing their bid for 2020 is grabbing headlines — even before presidential campaigns officially start.
The 2018 midterm season coined the term “Pink Wave, since a historically high number of women ran for office, for both parties, and were then elected to Congress. According to the Brookings Institute, women made up 23 percent of non incumbents running for seats in 2018, compared to the 16 percent in the previous two election cycles.
With such momentum, it is only natural that we would see more women running to break the ultimate “glass ceiling”. Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren, all Democratic senators, have announced that they are forming exploratory committees in order to raise money for their presidential campaigns.
Party and gender are the only common denominators among these women, who come from different backgrounds and have already shown signs of taking different approaches in campaigning.
Kamala Harris, the candidate that has been signaled as the “favorite” among the three, is the daughter of two immigrants and has emphasized her criminal justice background as her “modus operandi”. In her website, she describes herself as “tough, principled and fearless”. However, in an op-ed piece to the New York Times, Lara Bezlon, a law professor at the University of San Francisco, stated that Harris is not a progressive prosecutor and accused of her staying silent when progressives attempted to embrace criminal justice reform.
Kirsten Gillibrand describes herself as a “young mom” and promised to fight for other people’s children as hard as she fights for her own. A vociferous opponent of Trump, Gillibrand has said: “I am not afraid of him”. However, Gillibrand’s ties to wall street have raised eyebrows and her former affiliation to the conservative Blue Dog Democrats put her progressive stance in question.
Elizabeth Warren has perhaps had the most tumultuous start, due to the controversy surrounding her DNA test in 2018, contesting her claim to be from Native American descent. She was the first one to announce her candidacy and positions herself as a strong critic of the “ultra-rich”, who she believes rig economic policy in their favor.
In the aftermath of the #MeTooMovement and the 2016 election, 2020 would seem like a promising time for a woman to challenge the incumbent. Also, the voter demographic is favorable as according to data from the Pew Research Center, 56% of women identify as Democrats or lean Democratic.
In addition to facing the challenges which come with breaking the ultimate glass ceiling, these three contenders will have to face difficulties within their own party, as the three women struggle with name recognition. According to the last Quinnipiac poll, both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders (who have not made any announcements yet) remain on top among voters.
By: Giovanna Bellotti Azevedo
Illustration By: Mikhaila Markham