Gillibrand’s support for hundreds of female candidates around the country has been a hallmark of her political rise. Now, more than any candidate for president ever has, she’s putting gender at the heart of her pitch to voters — a strategy that could bolster her cause with a sizable slice of the Democratic base and help her stand out in a sprawling primary. But she begins the campaign behind several other prominent women — and men — seeking the same bloc of support, and she will face strong pressure to construct a winning coalition including all stripes of voters.
“Gillibrand is running more clearly than any other candidate to the women’s base,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. “The risk of that strategy is that it has to be more than identity politics to win the presidency. Developing that bloc will be key for her to be competitive in the primary, but she’ll have to also go beyond that before long.”
It’s a strategy in line with the moment and Gillibrand’s history: Female voters and a record number of female candidates just powered the Democratic takeover of the House in 2018, fueled by intense opposition to President Donald Trump.