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Which States Have the Highest Rates of Female Gubernatorial Nominees?

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Western states dominate the top of the list, with Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, and Wyoming all in the Top 10

nellietayloeross10.jpgA recent Smart Politics report examined the winning percentage of female gubernatorial nominees as challengers (six percent), candidates for open seats (40 percent), and as incumbents (83 percent) since 1924 when the first two women were elected governor in U.S. history (Ma Ferguson of Texas and Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming).

In Part II of this series, Smart Politics looks at the frequency across the states with which women have been nominated for governor by the Democratic and Republican parties over these last 89 years.

Which states have nominated women the most? And which the least?

Since 1924, a total of 112 of the 2,724 major party gubernatorial nominees across the nation have been women, or 4.1 percent.

Because there were only a handful of women to receive their party's nomination during the first 50 years since Ferguson and Ross won their seats, the two most recent states to achieve statehood, Alaska (17.9 percent) and Hawaii in 1959 (14.3 percent), lead the way.

Western states hold five of the Top 6 slots with Wyoming at #3 (10.4 percent), and Arizona, Maryland, and Nevada tied at #4 (9.1 percent).

Rounding out the Top 10 are Vermont (8.9 percent), Washington (8.7 percent), Connecticut (8.6 percent), and Oklahoma (6.8 percent).

Female Major Party Gubernatorial Nominees by State, 1924-2013

Rank
State
# Won
# Women
# Nominees
% Women
1
Hawaii
2
5
28
17.9
2
Alaska
1
4
28
14.3
3
Wyoming
1
5
48
10.4
4
Arizona
4
6
66
9.1
4
Maryland
0
4
44
9.1
4
Nevada
0
4
44
9.1
7
Vermont
3
8
90
8.9
8
Washington
3
4
46
8.7
9
Connecticut
3
5
58
8.6
10
Oklahoma
1
3
44
6.8
11
California
0
3
45
6.7
12
Delaware
2
3
46
6.5
12
Missouri
0
3
46
6.5
12
Montana
1
3
46
6.5
15
New Jersey
2
3
48
6.3
16
New Hampshire
4
5
90
5.6
17
Louisiana*
1
2
38
5.3
18
Rhode Island
0
4
80
5.0
19
Alabama
1
2
42
4.8
20
Nebraska
1
3
66
4.5
20
Kentucky
1
2
44
4.5
22
Illinois
0
2
45
4.4
23
Texas
2
3
69
4.3
23
Kansas
3
3
70
4.3
25
Oregon
1
2
48
4.2
26
Maine
0
2
64
3.1
27
Massachusetts
0
2
66
3.0
27
Michigan
2
2
66
3.0
27
North Dakota
0
2
66
3.0
30
New Mexico
1
2
68
2.9
30
Iowa
0
2
70
2.9
32
South Carolina
1
1
36
2.8
33
Pennsylvania
0
1
44
2.3
34
Indiana
0
1
46
2.2
34
North Carolina
1
1
46
2.2
36
Florida
0
1
47
2.1
36
West Virginia
0
1
48
2.1
38
Virginia
0
1
51
2.0
39
Colorado
0
1
62
1.6
40
Arkansas
0
1
75
1.3
41
Georgia
0
0
40
0.0
41
Idaho
0
0
56
0.0
41
Minnesota
0
0
63
0.0
41
Mississippi
0
0
34
0.0
41
New York
0
0
52
0.0
41
Ohio
0
0
62
0.0
41
South Dakota
0
0
70
0.0
41
Tennessee
0
0
55
0.0
41
Utah
0
0
48
0.0
41
Wisconsin
0
0
70
0.0
 
Total
42
112
2724
4.1
* Female candidates are counted in Louisiana in primaries during cycles in which no run-off general is conducted. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

Another way to get a better glimpse of which states have been more likely to nominate women for the chief executive state office is to look at the data over the past quarter century.

Before the 1986 cycle, the largest number of female major party gubernatorial nominees in a given cycle was only three, in 1974.

In that cycle, Democrat Ella Grasso of Connecticut and Republicans Louise Gore of Maryland and Shirley Crumpler of Nevada all appeared on the general election ballot. (Only Grasso was victorious).

In 1986, however, major parties in seven states nominated eight women for the office: in Alaska (Republican Arliss Sturgulewski), Arizona (Democrat Carolyn Warner), Connecticut (Republican Julie Belaga), Nebraska (Republican Kay Orr and Democrat Helen Boosalis), Nevada (Republican Patty Cafferata), Oregon (Republican Norma Paulus), and Vermont (Democrat Madeleine Kunin).

Orr, a challenger, and Kunin, a one-term incumbent, won their gubernatorial races.

Ever since 1986, women have locked down approximately the same number of slots every four years (when nearly three-quarters of the states hold gubernatorial elections) with eight nominees in 1990, then 10 in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010.

During this 27-year span, an average of 13.0 percent of major party gubernatorial nominees have been women, or 96 of 738.

Western states again lead the way with Arizona and Hawaii tied for first at 35.7 percent (5 of 14 nominees) and Alaska #3 at 28.6 percent (4 of 14).

Rhode Island is fourth with 22.2 percent followed by a dozen states tied at #5 with 21.4 percent: Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wyoming.

Female Major Party Gubernatorial Nominees by State, 1986-2013

Rank
State
# Women
# Nominees
% Women
1
Arizona
5
14
35.7
1
Hawaii
5
14
35.7
3
Alaska
4
14
28.6
4
Rhode Island
4
18
22.2
5
Connecticut
3
14
21.4
5
Delaware
3
14
21.4
5
Kansas
3
14
21.4
5
Maryland
3
14
21.4
5
Missouri
3
14
21.4
5
Montana
3
14
21.4
5
Nebraska
3
14
21.4
5
Nevada
3
14
21.4
5
New Jersey
3
14
21.4
5
Oklahoma
3
14
21.4
5
Washington
3
14
21.4
5
Wyoming
3
14
21.4
17
California
3
16
18.8
18
New Hampshire
5
28
17.9
18
Vermont
5
28
17.9
20
Illinois
2
13
15.4
20
Louisiana*
2
13
15.4
22
Maine
2
14
14.3
22
Massachusetts
2
14
14.3
22
Michigan
2
14
14.3
22
New Mexico
2
14
14.3
22
Oregon
2
14
14.3
22
Texas
2
14
14.3
28
Alabama
1
14
7.1
28
Arkansas
1
14
7.1
28
Colorado
1
14
7.1
28
Florida
1
14
7.1
28
Indiana
1
14
7.1
28
Iowa
1
14
7.1
28
Kentucky
1
14
7.1
28
North Carolina
1
14
7.1
28
North Dakota
1
14
7.1
28
Pennsylvania
1
14
7.1
28
South Carolina
1
14
7.1
28
Virginia
1
14
7.1
40
West Virginia
1
16
6.3
41
Georgia
0
14
0.0
41
Idaho
0
14
0.0
41
Minnesota
0
14
0.0
41
Mississippi
0
14
0.0
41
New York
0
14
0.0
41
Ohio
0
14
0.0
41
South Dakota
0
14
0.0
41
Tennessee
0
14
0.0
41
Utah
0
16
0.0
41
Wisconsin
0
16
0.0
 
Total
96
738
13.0
* Female candidates are counted in Louisiana in primaries during cycles in which no run-off general is conducted. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

A majority of states have yet to elect a woman into the governor's office (27), with the remaining 23 states electing female nominees a total of 42 times since 1924 led by Arizona and New Hampshire with four each and Connecticut, Kansas, Vermont, and Washington with three.

As the tables above indicate, major parties in 10 states, however, have failed to even nominate a female gubernatorial candidate to the office once: Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Eight of these states will hold gubernatorial elections in 2014 (Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin) but only Georgia and Wisconsin are poised at this time to have a good chance at ending this drought.

In Georgia, former State Senator and Dekalb County Commissioner Connie Stokes is seeking the Democratic nomination as is former state Commerce Secretary Mary Burke in the Badger State.

Overall, through the 2013 gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, Vermont leads the nation with the most female major party gubernatorial nominees with eight.

Arizona is next with six followed by Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Wyoming with five and Alaska, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington with four.

New Hampshire is poised to move up to a tie with Arizona for second place after the 2014 cycle with Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan running for a second term in the Granite State.

Three other incumbent first-term female governors are shoo-ins to appear on the ballot: Republicans Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

Female candidates are also running or exploring major party nomination bids in Arizona (Republican Christine Jones), Arkansas (Republican Debra Hobbs), Connecticut (Republican Toni Boucher), Florida (Democrat Nan Rich, Republican Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder), Maryland (Democrat Heather Mizeur), Massachusetts (Democrats Martha Coakley, Juliette Kayyem), Nebraska (Democrat Annette Dubas), New Mexico (Democrat Linda Lopez), Pennsylvania (Democrats Allyson Schwartz, Kathleen McGinty, Jo Ellen Litz), Texas (Democrat Wendy Davis, Republicans Miriam Martinez and Lisa Fritsch), and Wyoming (Republican Cindy Hill).

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    Remains of the Data

    No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

    Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

    Political Crumbs

    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    An Idaho Six Pack

    Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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