2018 Primary Results

2018 Primary Winners

This spotlight presents a deep-dive on the 2018 primary election. Bethesda Beat reports that this election "was not the year of the woman in Montgomery County," noting, for instance, that incumbent Nancy Navarro was the only woman democrat to win a race for the nine-seat county council (June 28, 2018). The Washington Post, too, noted that the election results "by almost any measure" reflected the diversity of the county except for one: gender (June 27, 2018). 
The dashboard below shows the number of primary election winners by gender for county, state, federal, and party positions based on manual data collection. Users can filter down to a particular party by using the checkboxes on the right.
The results indicate the following:
  • At the federal level, a number of incumbent men won re-election on the democratic side, while Amie Hoeber was able to successfully repeat her primary nomination for congressional District 6 to become the sole woman candidate running for federal office in the general election from either party. Montgomery County produced more favorable results for women in congressional races in comparison to the overall vote, with Democrat Aruna Miller receiving more votes in Montgomery County than winner David Trone (Congressional District 6)  and with Republican Bridgette Cooper receiving more county votes than the eventual winner, John Walsh (congressional District 8). Both, however, were out-voted by enough voters in other jurisdictions to lose their respective elections.
  • At the state level, the results were closer to parity among Democrats, with Democratic women candidates winning 17 seats to 19 seats for men (when considering the Lt. Governor race distinct from Governor). Women also won a majority of the State Court elections (4 to 3). The results were more skewed within the Republican primary, with 8 women winning their primary elections as compared to 16 men.
  • At the county level, the results showed a very notable gender disparity despite a large number of open seats. Democrats and Republicans each elected only one female candidate to the nine-seat county council, and both voted for a male candidate to represent them in the County Executive race, a position which has yet to be held by a woman. Women candidates were far more successful in the nonpartisan school board elections, winning all positions.
  • At the party level, Democrats elected equal numbers of men and women to party positions, since party positions are designated by gender to ensure a fifty-fifty balance by design. Republicans elected 17 women and 27 men to party positions, with women winning slightly less than 40 percent of the positions.
The charts below provide visualizations of the election results to offer additional insights.

Distribution of Votes and Winners by Gender

The dashboard below provides a summary of the election results. Users can select different parties, levels, and offices using the filter on the right.
In the democrat primary, women represented a roughly equal share of candidates, incumbents, and winners (36-37 percent) -- but underperformed in the percent of total votes received (29 percent), potentially indicating participation in more competitive races. Women account for 53 percent of voter-age eligible residents, meaning that women are underrepresented among Democratic candidates by 32 percent and among Democratic votes received by 45 percent. These differences are particularly sharp in the Democratic primary for county council, where women made up 36 percent of the candidates and received a nearly equivalent 34 percent of the vote, but won only 11 percent of the available seats.
In the Republican primary, women out-performed their share of candidates and incumbents, winning 29 percent of the vote and 32 percent of elections despite accounting for only 25 percent of the candidates. In the nonpartisan elections for judges and School Board, women accounted for a majority of candidates (58 percent) and received more than two-thirds of the votes (70%) to win two-thirds of the available seats.

Election Characteristics: Competitiveness and Incumbency

When analyzing election results, it is important to consider the broader context of the race. Incumbents, for example, typically have an easy time of winning their primaries; this year, only two incumbents lost their primary election in Montgomery County, both for state House positions. To provide context, this report looked to a visualization technique developed for the Women Candidate Tracker by Politico (in partnership with the Center for American Women and Politics and the Women in Public Service Project). A tailored version of their 'parliament chart' shows what share of the winners faced an opponent of the opposite sex and which of the races was won (or lost) by an incumbent. Parliament charts for the Democratic and Republican primaries are included below. Both  include the non-partisan positions that appeared on both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots (these positions are marked as "SB" for School Board and "SC" for state court). The interactive dashboard in the middle provides drill-down capabilities of this same information.
For multi-seat elections, the number of competitive seats for each gender is determined by the total number of candidates running from the opposite gender. For example, a state House race with three available seats, three male candidates, and two  female candidates is considered to provide one uncontested seat for men, since men are guaranteed to win at least one seat. Uncontested seats were assigned first to incumbents.

Democrat and Non-Partisan Chart

Women did not contest 17 of the Democratic primary elections, all but one of which (state Senate District 19) was held by an incumbent. Women challenged 11 male incumbents (or 40 percent of all male incumbents), without success. Men challenged seven female incumbents (or 41 percent of female incumbents), also without success.  Out of the 18 open seats contested by both male and female candidates, women won 8 (or about 44 percent). This suggests that the gender disparities in election outcomes may be in part be a result of the incumbency advantage held by men, with males account for 64 percent of incumbents running for Democratic seats.

Interactive Dashboard

The dashboard below provides the same data in a simple bar chart. Users can examine the election characteristics by party, level, and office by using the filters on the right.

Republican and Non-Partisan Chart

Within the Republican primary, far fewer candidates had the benefit of incumbency (i.e. the Governor and Lt. Governor). Regardless of gender, Republicans also did not have a contest for a number of seats; there were no candidates competing for eight open positions. Only five of the races had male and female candidates compete against one another; and only three when excluding non-partisan positions. Women won one out of three of these competitive elections (or 33 percent).

Appendix: Individual Primary Results by Gender

The charts below use a "beeswarm" visualization to show the distribution of votes received by male (blue) and female (purple) candidates, both winners (darker color) and losers (lighter color). Red annotations show the names of select candidates. The first two charts below show the results grouped by level (i.e. federal, state, county), first for the Democratic and then for the Republican primary ballot. The next set of charts shows the results broken down further by office (elections without much competition are excluded for space considerations). Candidates that have a half dark and half light shade are those who won the most county votes but still lost the election when including votes from other counties, or vice versa.

Democratic Primary and Non-Partisan Elections - by Level

Republican Primary and Non-Partisan Elections - by Level

Democratic Primary and Non-Partisan Elections - by Office

Republican Primary and Non-Partisan Elections - by Office