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. The Washington Post, too, noted that the election results "by almost any measure" reflected the diversity of the County except for one: gender. 
The dashboard below shows the number of primary election winners by gender for County, State, Federal, and Party positions based on manual research by CountyStat. 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 candidate running for federal office from either party. Montgomery County actually produced more favorable results for women in congressional races, with democrat Aruna Miller receiving more votes in Montgomery County than winner David Trone (Congressional District 6)  and with republican Bridgette Cooper similarly 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, with democrat 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 (or 1 in 3 elections).
  • 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 9-seat County Council, and both voted for a man 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 non-partisan school board elections, winning two out of two positions.
  • At the Party level, the Democrat elections are split by gender to ensure a 50-50 balance. Republicans elected 17 women and 27 men for party positions, with women winning slightly less than 40% of the positions.
The charts below provide visualizations of the election results to help provide 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 (ignoring party positions), women represented a roughly equal share of candidates, incumbents, and winners (36%) -- but under-performed in the % of total votes (29%), potentially indicating participation in more competitive races. Women account for 53% of voter-age eligible residents, meaning that women are under-represented among democrat candidates by 32% and among democrat winners by 45%. These differences are particularly sharp in the democrat primary for County Council, where women made up 36% of the candidates and received a nearly equivalent 34% of the vote, but won only 11% of the available seats.
In the republican primary, women out-performed their share of candidates and incumbents, winning 29% of the vote and 32% of elections despite accounting for only 25% of the candidates. In the non-partisan elections for judges and School Board, women accounted for the majority of candidates (58%) and received more than a third of the votes (70%) to win a third of the available seats.

Election Characteristics: Competitiveness and Incumbency

When analyzing election results, it's important to consider the broader context of the race. Incumbents, for instance, typically have an easy time of winning their primaries; for instance, only two incumbents lost their primary election in Montgomery County this cycle, both for State house positions. To provide this context, CountyStat looked to a visualization techniques 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). CountyStat has tailored their 'parliament chart' visualization for use in this analysis to indicate what share of the winners faced an opponent of the opposite sex as well as to show which of the races was won (or lost) by an incumbent. This information is shown for democrats in the chart below followed by the primary results. Both include the non-partisan positions that appeared on both primary ballots (these positions are marked as SB for School Board and SC for State Court). Both also exclude Party offices. 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; so, for instance, a State house race with 3 available seats that has 3 male candidates and 2 female candidates running is considered to provide 1 uncontested seat for men, since men are guaranteed to win at least one seat. In these cases, uncontested seats were assigned first to incumbents.

Democrat and Non-Partisan Chart

Women did not contest 17 of the democrat primary elections, all but one of which (State Senate District 19) was held by an incumbent. Women challenged 11 male incumbents (or 40% of all male incumbents), without success. Men challenged 7 female incumbents (or 41% 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%). This suggests that the gender disparities in election outcomes may be in part a result of the incumbency advantage held by men, with males account for 64% of incumbents running for partisan democrat 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 have the benefit of incumbency (i.e. only Governor and Lt. Governor for the partisan offices that appeared on the ballot). Republicans, of any gender, also did not contest a number of seats, with no candidates competing for 8 open positions. Only 5 of the elections saw male and female candidates compete against one another, dropping to 3 when excluding non-partisan positions. Women won 1 out of 3 of these competitive elections (or 33%).

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 democrat 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 to save space). Candidates that have a half dark and half light color are those who won the most County votes but still lost the election, 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