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#WomenRun2014: Statewide Elected Executive Office Outlook

Today we focus on the outlook for women seeking statewide elected executive offices other than governor. Candidates and Nominees Lieutenant Governor Forty-two (21D, 21R) women filed to run for lieutenant governor in 24 states in 2014.[i] The record number of women filing for lieutenant governor is 46 (25D, 19R, 1ACP, 1Ind),[ii] set in 1994. This year, 24 (15D, 9R) women won their primaries, including five (1D, 4R) incumbents running for re-election. Thirteen (10D, 3R) women are running as challengers and 6 (4D, 2R) women are running for open seats. The record for women nominees for lieutenant governor is 29 (14D, 13R, 1ACP, 1Ind), also set in 1994. LGCandsandNominees LGNomineesbyPartyThree states – Connecticut, Iowa, and Ohio – have woman-versus-woman general election contests for lieutenant governor this year. Six (5D, 1R) women of color are among the 24 female candidates for lieutenant governor in 2014. Four Latinas (3D, 1R) are nominees for lieutenant governor: Annette Tadeo (D-FL); Evelyn Sanguinetti (R-IL); Lucy Flores (D-NV); and Leticia Van de Putte (D-TX).  One Black woman, Connie Stokes, is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Georgia. New Mexico’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, Debra Haaland, is Native American. Three (2D, 1R) other women of color ran for lieutenant governor this cycle but lost their primaries. Additional Statewide Elected Executive Offices 101 (55D, 46R) women filed to run for statewide elected executive offices other than governor and lieutenant governor in 2014. Seventy-one (46D, 25R) women won their primaries, including 17 (8D, 9R) incumbents running for re-election. Twenty-one (19D, 2R) women are running as challengers and 33 (19D, 14R) women are running for open seats. Twenty (14D, 6R) women are running for secretary of state, 12 (8D, 4R) for attorney general, 11 (6D, 5R) for state auditor, 10 (9D, 1R) for state treasurer, and 7 (2D, 5R) for their states’ top education posts. SEEONomineesbyOfficeThere are nine woman-versus-woman general election contests for statewide elective executive offices this year, including four contests for secretary of state (IN, NM, NV, and SD), two contests for state auditor (AR and MA), two contests for state comptroller/controller (IL and CA), and Idaho’s race for superintendent of public instruction. Based on preliminary counts, at least 24 of the 101 women who filed for statewide elected executive posts are women of color, including at least 14 women of color who won nominations . Ten (10D) Black women, two (1D, 1R) Latinas, one (1D) Asian American woman, and one (1D) multi-racial woman are nominees.[iii] Women in Statewide Elected Executive Office 2015 Lieutenant Governors Eleven (5D, 6R) women currently serve as lieutenant governors. Three (3D) incumbents are not running again in 2014; Sheila Simon (D-IL) and Yvonne Solon (DFL-MN) chose not to seek re-election and Elizabeth Roberts (D-RI) is term-limited. Two (2R) incumbent women lieutenant governors are not up for re-election this year: Sue Ellspermann (R-IN) and Kim Guadagno (R-NJ). Cook Political Report ratings are available for races including 19 of the 24 female lieutenant governor nominees this year because they are elected on tickets with the gubernatorial nominees. Among those 19 contenders, three (1D, 2R) are in races deemed solid or likely to favor candidates of their party and six (6D) are in races deemed solid or likely to favor candidates of the opposing party. Eight female nominees (3D, 5R) are in races deemed toss-ups by Cook, and the remaining two (2D) lieutenant governor nominees are in races leaning in their favor (1D) or against them (1D). LGRatingsFive (3D, 2R) of the women nominees for lieutenant governor are running in states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. In those races, predictions of electoral success are harder to make. These races include three (3D) of the six women of color nominees for lieutenant governor this year: Connie Stokes (D-GA), Lucy Flores (D-NV), and Leticia Van de Putte (D-TX). Annette Tadeo (D-FL) and Evelyn Sanguinetti (R-IL), both sharing tickets with their gubernatorial nominees, are in races deemed as toss-ups by Cook, and Debra Haaland (D-NM) faces an uphill climb with Gary King as Democratic challengers to the Republican incumbents. Since 1998, the largest number of women to serve simultaneously as lieutenant governors has been 19. The maximum number of female winners this year would be 24 if women won all toss-up and long-shot races. Due to the competitiveness of these races, it remains unclear whether we will exceed even the number of women lieutenant governors currently serving (11), let alone the most recent high (19). LGs20042014Additional Statewide Elected Executive Offices Fifty-six (29D, 27R) women currently serve in statewide elected executive offices other than governor or lieutenant governor. Twenty-one of those women are not up for re-election this year and will remain in office in 2015. Seventeen of those incumbents are nominees again this year. Since 1998, the greatest number of female statewide elected executive officials (not including governors and lieutenant governors) serving simultaneously was 70 in 2000. Because polling is not readily available in the 62 races with women candidates, we make no predictions of electoral outcomes in these races. SEEO20042014What to Watch on Election Day In addition to tracking the numbers of women winning statewide elected executive offices on Election Day, we will be watching these situations where women have the potential to make history:
  • Latinas are running for lieutenant governor this year in FL, IL, NV, and TX. Since no Latina has ever served as lieutenant governor in any state, a win by any of the four would make history.  To date, only 9 Latinas have ever held statewide elected executive offices.
  • Five Black women, all Democrats, are running for statewide elected executive offices in Georgia, each with the potential to make history as the first Black woman to hold a statewide elected executive post in that state.[iv] To date, only 10 Black women have ever held statewide elected executive offices in any state.
  • If elected in New Mexico, lieutenant governor candidate Debra Haaland (D) would be the first Native American woman elected lieutenant governor and the second Native American woman elected to a statewide elected executive office nationwide.
  • If elected in Massachusetts, Maura Healey (D) would be the first openly LGBT attorney general in the nation.
  • These statewide elected executive office candidates would be the first women in their states to hold the positions they are seeking:
    • Liz Johnson (D), GA insurance commissioner
    • Robbin Shipp (D), GA labor commissioner
    • Valerie Wilson (D), GA state school superintendent
    • Janet Stewart (D), NE attorney general
    • Holli High Woodings (D), ID secretary of state
    • Ginny Deerin (D), SC secretary of state


[i] Seven states, including six with gubernatorial elections this year, do not have lieutenant governors.
[ii] ACP is A Connecticut Party, a third party in that state that is included here because there was a governor from that party at the time.
[iii] Kamala Harris (D-CA) identifies as Black and Asian Pacific Islander. CAWP attempts to verify all candidates’ race or ethnicity, but is limited by whether or not candidates return our request for identification and whether or not public information about the candidate’s identity is available.
[iv] Doreen Carter (secretary of state), Liz Johnson (insurance commissioner), Robbin Shipp (labor commissioner), Connie Stokes (lieutenant governor), Valerie Wilson (state school superintendent)  

#WomenVote2014: Tracking the Gender Gap and the Women’s Vote in 2014

Much attention has been paid to women voters throughout the 2014 cycle, whether by candidates or commentators. Most recently, some political observers have questioned whether or not the gender-specific political messages or themes evident in this cycle have resonated with women and, if so, with which women. Others have asked whether or not targeting women voters is effective at all, raising questions about why women are so important to electoral outcomes. In this outlook, we prepare for Election Day by highlighting the historic facts about women voters and the gender gap, while clarifying the distinction between the women’s vote and the gender gap. In this election cycle media reports have frequently confused the two, actually reporting on the women’s vote but calling it the gender gap.We also present both measures (the women’s vote and the gender gap) from the most recent polls in competitive contests for governor and the U.S. Senate, demonstrating that historic trends persist in 2014; across nearly all contests, women are more likely than men to support the Democratic candidates. The Women’s Vote vs. The Gender Gap Media coverage this election season has featured some confusing mislabeling of the gender gap and women’s voting patterns. To clarify: The Gender Gap in voting is the difference between the proportions of women and men who support a given candidate, generally the leading or winning candidate. It is the gap between the genders, not within a gender.

[% Women for Leading or Winning Candidate] – [% Men for Leading or Winning Candidate] = Gender Gap

The Women's Vote describes the division in women’s support for major party candidates in any given race. It is the percentage-point advantage that one candidate has over the other among women voters – that is, the difference in women’s support for the Democratic and Republican candidates.

[% Women for Leading Party’s Candidate] – [% Women for Trailing Party’s Candidate] = Women's Vote

This distinction is important because even when women and men favor the same candidate, they usually do so by different margins, resulting in a gender gap.  For example, we frequently see a gender gaps even in races where the women’s vote breaks for the Republican - i.e., where more women voters prefer the Republican candidate than the Democratic candidate. The FACTS on Why Women’s Votes Matter
  • Women vote in higher numbers than men and have done so in every election since 1964. In 2012, 9.8 million more women than men voted. Women have voted at higher rates than men since 1980. In 2012, 63.7% of eligible female adults went to the polls, compared to 59.8% of eligible male adults. Even in midterm elections, when voter turnout is lower among men and women, women vote in higher numbers and at higher rates than men.
  • More women than men register to vote. Some 81.7 million women were registered to vote in 2012, compared to 71.4 million men.
  • There has been a gender gap in every presidential election since 1980. In the 2012 election, women were 10 percentage points more likely than men to vote for Barack Obama (55% of women vs. 45% of men), according to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research. Gender gaps were also evident in major races for governor and the U.S. Senate in 2012, with women’s votes critical to Democratic candidates’ success.
  • There also has been a gender gap in congressional voting in every recent midterm election. In 2010 there was a 6-point gender gap, with 51% of women compared with 57% of men voting for the Republican candidate in their district.  In 2006, there was a 4-point gender gap, with 56% of women and 52% of men voting for the Democratic candidate in their district. 
Gender, Voting, and the 2014 Election The tables below report the gender gaps and women’s vote evident in polls in the 11 most competitive U.S. Senate contests and 18 most competitive gubernatorial contests in 2014.  In most (but not all) races the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate.  Gender gaps are evident in all races, although some are within the margin of error for the poll. The results reported here are from the latest polls available via Real Clear Politics where gender breakdowns were made publicly available. Two polls are reported in Georgia’s Senate and gubernatorial races because the gender results – both from the same time period – differed significantly. Competitive Senate Contests
State Candidate Overall Gender Gap Women's Vote Women  Men Date/Source
AK Mark Begich (D) Dan Sullivan (R) 44% 48% 20 pts. +17% Begich 54% 37% 34% 57% NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
AR Mary Pryor (D) Tom Cotton (R) 41% 49% 15 pts. +4% Pryor 46% 42% 35% 57% Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1) 
CO Mark Udall (D) Cory Gardner (R) 44% 46% 11 pts. +6% Udall 47% 41% 40% 52% Denver Post/SurveyUSA (Oct. 27-29)
GA Michelle Nunn (D) David Perdue (R) 46.6% 47.4% 14 pts. +12% Nunn 53% 41% 39% 55% WSB/Landmark (Oct. 29)
Michelle Nunn (D) David Perdue (R) 44% 48% 2 pts. +2% Perdue 45% 47% 43% 49% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
IA Bruce Braley (D) Joni Ernst (R) 41% 51% 14 pts. +7% Braley 51% 44% 36% 58% Des Moines Register (Oct. 28-31) 
KS Greg Orman (I) Pat Roberts (R) 44% 43% 4 pts.  +7% Orman 46% 39% 42% 47% Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
KY Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) Mitch McConnell (R) 41% 50% 3 pts.  +7% McConnell 42% 49% 41% 52% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
LA Mary Landrieu (D) Bill Cassidy (R) 45% 50% 15 pts. +7% Landrieu 50% 43% 39% 58% NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
NC Kay Hagan (D) Thom Tillis (R) 43% 42% 8 pts. +8% Hagan 47% 39% 39% 46% Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
NH Jeanne Shaheen (D) Scott Brown (R) 49% 49% 11 pts. +11% Shaheen 54% 43% 43% 54% American Research Group (Oct. 27-29)
VA Mark Warner (D) Ed Gillespie (R) 51% 44% 3 pts.  +10% Warner 53% 43% 50% 45% Christopher Newport University (Oct. 23-29) 
The gender gap in competitive Senate races, based on the most recent polls, ranges from 2 to 20 points. In all but two contests, the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate by anywhere between 4 and 17 percentage points. In Kentucky, the latest NBC/Marist Poll shows Republican Mitch McConnell leading Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes among both men and women voters (+7 percentage points among women), but a gender gap of 3 points is evident, with men more likely than women to support McConnell. In Georgia, the latest NBC/Marist Poll shows Republican David Perdue leading Democrat Michelle Nunn among both men and women voters (+2 percentage points among women voters), with women voters 2 percentage points less likely to support Perdue than men (2-point gender gap).  However, there is a 14- point gender gap in the WSB/Landmark Poll from Georgia over the same time period, and the women’s vote advantages Nunn by 12 percentage points. Competitive Gubernatorial Contests

State

Candidate

Overall

Gender Gap

Women's Vote

Women

Men

Date/Source

AK Sean Parnell (R) Bill Walker (I)

38% 34%

8 pts.

Equal split

33% 33%

41% 34%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
AR Mike Ross (D) Asa Hutchinson (R)

41% 51%

10 pts.

+1% Hutchinson

45% 46%

36% 56%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
AZ Fred DuVal (D) Doug Ducey (R)

40% 50%

14 pts.

+2% DuVal

45% 43%

35% 57%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
CO John Hickenlooper (D) Bob Beauprez (R)

46% 46%

5 pts./ 9 pts.

+7% Hickenlooper

48% 41%

43% 50%

Denver Post/SurveyUSA (Oct. 27-29)
CT Dannel Malloy (D) Tom Foley (R)

44% 41%

10 pts.

+13% Malloy

49% 36%

39% 47%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
FL Charlie Crist (D) Rick Scott (R)

41% 41%

6 pts./ 7pts.

+6% Crist

44% 38%

38% 45%

YouGov (Oct. 25-31)
GA Jason Carter (D) Nathan Deal (R)

46% 48%

14 pts.

+11% Carter

52% 41%

39% 55%

WSB/Landmark (Oct. 29)
  Jason Carter (D) Nathan Deal (R)

43% 48%

4 pts.

Equal split

46% 46%

40% 50%

NBC/Marist Poll (Oct. 27-30)
IL Pat Quinn (D) Bruce Rauner (R)

45% 41%

6 pts.

+16% Quinn

48% 32%

42% 51%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
KS Paul Davis (D) Sam Brownback (R)

48% 42%

8 pts.

+15% Davis

52% 37%

44% 46%

Fox News (Oct. 28-30)
MA Martha Coakley (D) Charlie Baker (R)

42% 46%

9 pts.

+4% Coakley

45% 41%

37% 50%

Public Policy Polling Oct. 30 -Nov. 1)
MD Anthony Brown (D) Larry Hogan (R)

51% 38%

15 pts.

+18% Brown

58% 30%

43% 48%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
ME Mike Michaud (D) Paul LePage (R) Eliot Cutler (I)

37% 35% 7%

11 pts.

+9% Michaud

42% 33% 6%

31% 38% 7%

NYTimes/CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 16-23)
MI Mark Schauer (D) Rick Snyder (R)

43% 48%

9 pts.

+4% Schauer

48% 44%

39% 53%

Mitchell Research (Oct. 27)
MN Mark Dayton (D) Jeff Johnson (R)

45% 38%

13 pts.

+19% Dayton

51% 32%

38% 45%

Star Tribune Minnesota Poll (Oct. 20-22)
NH Maggie Hassan (D) Walt Havenstein (R)

48% 36%

7 pts.

+10% Hassan

52% 42%

45% 50%

American Research Group (Oct. 27-29)
OR John Kitzhaber (D) Dennis Richardson (R)

50% 40%

11 pts.

+19% Kitzhaber

55% 36%

44% 45%

Survey USA (Oct. 23-27)
RI Gina Raimondo (D) Allan Fung (R)

38% 37%

2 pts.

+2% Raimondo

39% 37%

37% 38%

Brown University (Oct. 25-26)
WI Mary Burke (D) Scott Walker (R)

43% 45%

7 pts.

+4% Burke

45% 41%

41% 48%

YouGov (Oct. 25-31)
The gender gap in competitive gubernatorial races, based on the most recent polls, ranges from 2 to 15 points. In all but two contests, the women’s vote favors the Democratic candidate by anywhere between 2 and 19 percentage points. Even in Arkansas and Alaska, where the women’s vote is equally split or slightly favors the Republican candidate, women are still more likely than men to support the Democratic candidate. Results vary significantly in the two most recent Georgia polls, although women voters are more likely than men to support Democrat Jason Carter in both. CAWP will monitor the women’s vote and the gender gap on Election Day, using exit polls to identify and analyze gender differences in turnout and vote choice. Follow CAWP on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and releases on women voters in this year’s races.

When 100 isn’t a passing grade: A closer look at Women in Congress

One of the most circulated “women’s stories” of this week’s election has been the celebration of reaching 100 women in Congress. Because Alma Adams (D-NC) was elected in both her special election and general election contest, she will be sworn in to the 113th Congress next week and cause the number of women in the House to move from 79 to 80, and thus the overall number of women in Congress to reach 100 from 99. Reaching this marker is no small feat, as those of us who study and work with women in politics know. Just over two decades ago, in the 102nd Congress, only one-third (32) as many women served. Even more, it was not until Shirley Chisholm’s election to the House in 1968 that a Black woman served in Congress. Alma Adams becomes the 32nd Black women to serve in Congress, and was one of four new Black women members elected to the 114th Congress on Tuesday.[1] In fact, women of color will make up over one-third of the House women’s caucus in 2015, as they have in the 113th Congress.

First, those 100 women in Congress serve in a 535-member body (combining House and Senate). Doing the math yields a number far less worthy of celebration: 18.7%. Even with 100 members, women are less than one-fifth of Congress, despite being over 50% of the U.S. population. Second, we hit 100 women in Congress congress_swearin-4_3on Tuesday from a starting point of 99. Even if all remaining races with women candidates break in their favor, only 105 women will serve in the 114th Congress. That’s a net increase of six in the best case scenario for women, indicating a pace of progress that’s hardly impressive. Third, even among new members of Congress, women remain seriously underrepresented. According to the latest numbers of new members of the 114th Congress (with some races still undecided), women will be 19% of the freshman class. This isn’t terribly surprising when women make up a similarly low proportion of nominees going into Election Day. I don’t point out these statistics to discount the success of the women who put themselves forward for congressional offices this year. They are on the front lines of progress, doing what’s needed to disrupt the relatively stagnant trends I note here. For example, our two new women senators are the first women elected to the U.S. Senate from their states. Among the new women in the House, Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Mia Love (R-UT) are the first Black women from their states to serve in Congress. They are joined by female trailblazers at other levels of office this year, from Gina Raimondo’s election as the first woman governor of Rhode Island to the addition of 10 new Republican women in statewide elected executive offices nationwide. Rhode Island’s newly-elected Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is the first Latina elected statewide in all of the northeast, Evelyn Sanguinetti (Illinois) was elected as the nation's first Latina Lieutenant Governor, and Maura Healey will become the first openly LGBT person to serve as a state’s Attorney General next year. We should not overlook or reduce the accomplishments of these women, but I raise the concerns above to ensure that the narrative of women’s success is not so overstated by one statistic that it yields complacency. We can all take a minute to celebrate this marker of women’s progress, and more importantly the women who’ve marked it, but let’s also note where 100 falls short and what we can do to move well beyond it in elections to come.

 
For more information on how women candidates fared at all levels of office on Tuesday, see CAWP's post-election press release.
[1] Other new Black women members include: Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Mia Love (UT-4). Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) was also elected as a non-voting delegate.

Breaking Even: Women in the U.S. Senate

Slide2It’s official. We started election 2014 with 20 women in the U.S. Senate and we will enter the 114th Congress with 20 women in the U.S. Senate. With Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) defeat this weekend, the status quo is upheld. However, the make-up of the women members will be different in 2015. Two new women senators were elected in 2014, including Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and State Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA). They take the place of two women who were defeated in their bids for re-election: one-term incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) and three-term incumbent Mary Landrieu (D-LA).  As a result, the partisan make-up of the women senators will shift from 80 to 70 percent Democratic; 14 Democratic women and 6 Republican women will serve in the 114th Congress. And while no records were broken for the number of women candidates, nominees, or winners in U.S. Senate races this year, both female newcomers do make history as the first female Senators from their states. In fact, Ernst becomes the first woman ever sent to Congress from the state of Iowa. Together, Capito, Ernst, and the 4 current Republican women senators will make up the largest class of Republican women to serve at one time in the U.S. Senate. Incumbents Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) were re-elected in 2014, but only 4 of 15 total female Senate nominees were successful this year. This year’s four female winners join the 16 women senators not up for re-election this year, including only one woman of color: Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI). While many celebrated the jump to 20 women in the Senate after the 2012 elections, election 2014 serves as a reminder that the pace of progress for women in the U.S. Senate is inconsistent and, most striking, slow. That pace is unlikely to quicken without a steady increase in the number of women candidates filing for competitive seats and making it through their primaries. womeninsenateThe balance of gender power in the U.S. Senate is not only measured in overall numbers, but also in the power women hold in party and committee leadership. Due to the shift in party power from the 113th to 114th Congress, Democratic women who currently hold 9 committee chairmanships and co-chairmanships will lose their leadership posts. There are fewer Republican women with the seniority needed to win these positions, making it likely that the number of women committee chairs will decline in the 114th Congress. Republican women will also make up a much smaller proportion of the Republican caucus (11.1%) than Democratic women's proportion of the Democratic caucus (30.4%), presenting another potential hurdle to their influence in agenda-setting and strategy discussions within the majority party. Five more women senators will be up for re-election in 2016, but it will take a larger class of nominees for open seats or as competitive challengers to see significant change in women’s representation in the upper chamber of Congress in the next election.

Expanding Leadership Opportunities for Women Veterans

By Jean Sinzdak, Director, Program for Women Public Officials, Center for American Women and Politics ernstIn January, Joni Ernst (R-IA) will be among the 104 women serving in the 114th US Congress.  In addition to being the first woman elected to represent Iowa in Washington, Ernst made history in November as the first woman veteran elected to serve in the US Senate.  She will join fellow veterans Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who made history in 2012 as the first female combat veterans elected to serve in the US House, and Martha McSally, who was elected to the House this year from Arizona. With these additions, six women veterans will have served in Congress. (Former Representatives Catherine Small Long (D-LA), Heather Wilson (R-NM), and Sandy Adams (R-FL) round out the group.) mcsallyCAWP’s research indicates that women bring different priorities and experiences to public life, and women officeholders help make government more transparent, inclusive and accessible. Women public officials – elected and appointed – have an impact on public policy that ultimately affects the entire population of the state, region and nation. Today there are an estimated 2.2 million female veterans, and they represent one of the fastest growing segments of the veteran population – about 10 percent of the total 22 million veterans in this country.   Women veterans have already put their country first by serving in the military; they are exactly the kind of people we need as public leaders. And recognizing the distinctive experiences of women in the armed services, it’s clear that women vets will bring especially valuable insights to Congress. CAWP has partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Center for Women Veterans to help women veterans develop skill sets to prepare them for public and community service opportunities within their communities. The Center for Women Veterans, created in 1994 to monitor the VA’s administration of benefits and services to women Veterans and to advise the Secretary on the VA policy’s impact on Women Veterans, will advise CAWP on how it focuses its resource information to address women veterans’ issues.  “Women veterans often contact us for information about how they can continue serving,” says Elisa M. Basnight, director of the Center for Women Veterans. “This agreement with CAWP presents a prime opportunity for the Center to help prepare them for other forms of public service as it responds to a persistent need women veterans tell us they have, which is the desire to continue to make a difference after the uniform.” CAWP is also partnering with Veterans Campaign, a program of the National Association for Uniformed Services, on a female leadership workshop at their Veterans Campaign Training, which will be held on Feb. 21-25, 2015 in Washington, DC.  In addition, women veterans (and any women!) can attend one of the Ready to Run® programs hosted by CAWP or our partners around the country – upcoming programs can be found here.  Additional campaign trainings and leadership programs can be found on CAWP’s national Political & Leadership Resources for Women map. For more information about and other resources for women veterans, you can also visit the Center for Women Veterans.

Flat lines and Forecasting Women’s State Legislative Representation

When you are in the business of keeping numbers in the present, you’re often asked to forecast numbers in the future based on historical trends and variables. In our world of women’s political representation, we’re asked (and often ask ourselves) how long it will take for women to reach political parity in government. Here’s the problem: we can’t forecast the pace for progress when our numbers are moving backward instead of forward. Unfortunately, that’s the trend we saw from 2014 to 2015 for women in state legislatures. Let’s remember the recent history for women in state legislatures. In 2010, we saw the largest percentage decline in the number of women in state legislatures since we at CAWP began keeping the numbers in the 1970s. In 2012, women made up for those losses and netted about 20 seats for women nationwide. Women still remained just over 24% of state legislators, less than the historical height of women’s state legislative representation of 24.5%. WomenStLeg Before Election Day 2014, 1,791 women (24.3%) served in state legislatures nationwide. In 2015, 1,786 women (24.2%) hold state legislative seats. While the aggregate numbers reflect an overall loss in women’s state legislative representation, the partisan trends of 2014 were clearly evident among women candidates. From 2014 to 2015, the number of Republican women state legislators increased by a net of 60 legislators and the number of Democratic women state legislators decreased by a net of 68. Women lost a net of 26 seats in state houses nationwide, but gained a net of 20 seats in state senates. The trend overall, then, remained one of breaking even versus breaking records of women in office. Slide08 Slide09While Republican women gained state legislative seats this year, they still remain significantly underrepresented among all Republican legislators. In 2015, Republican women are just 17% of all Republican state legislators, while Democratic women are 33.8% of all Democratic state legislators. For Republican women, that’s a smaller proportion of their party’s representation than they held in 1995. Democratic women have increased as a proportion of all Democrats over the past two decades, though the flat line of progress is evident in the most recent election years (see chart below). PercentWomenStLEgThirteen more women of color will serve in state legislators in 2015 than served in 2014, reaching 390 women of color in total, or 21.8% of all women state legislators (up from 21% in 2014). These gains are significant in a year when women lost overall, but they are still reflective of a very slow rate of change. What explains the stagnation in state legislative women? A few things are of importance to note. First, women fare worse in elections where Republicans fare best because they make up a smaller proportion of Republican candidates. Moreover, the Democratic losses in Republican years are particularly damaging among women officeholders, who are more likely to be Democrats. Second, the number of women candidates – Republicans and Democrats alike – is not increasing at a pace necessary to see representational gains. We know that women fare as well as men on Election Day when they are in comparable races, but women need to make it to the ballot to experience that same level of success. In 2014, 2,517 women ran for state legislative office, 20 lower than ran in 2010 and just 72 more than the number of women who ran in 2012. The flat line in women’s representation is consistent with the flat line in women’s candidacies, serving as yet another reminder for the need to encourage, support, and mobilize women to run. Lastly, if women are to reach political parity with men, they must do so in both political parties. The trends in 2010 and 2014, both Republican years that saw declines in women’s representation, demonstrate that the dearth of Republican women running and winning makes it hard to counter the Democratic losses among women in the same years. So when will women reach parity with men in state legislatures? At this pace, the prognosis is grim. Instead of forecasting numeric progress, however, I’d rather identify opportunities for numeric change. CAWP’s research provides insights into the challenges and opportunities for women running for state legislative seats, and CAWP programs work to provide the support infrastructure to women making the decision to run. But what else needs to be done to disrupt the stasis and prevent further falls in women’s state legislative representation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. There is much more work to do.  

Spotlight: Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee Celebrates 25 Years

The Center for American Women and Politics is proud to work with colleagues and partners throughout the country to advance women in politics and leadership. This week, footnotes is proud to host a guest blog post from Susan Rose, a former county supervisor (Santa Barbara, CA) and faculty member of CAWP's 2012 Project. In this post, Susan highlights the important work done by the Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. Thank you to Susan and to the SBWPC for your work on behalf of women! Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee: 25th Anniversary Susan Rose

Susan-Rose-BIG-version
The Honorable Susan Rose
 

 

The 2012 election resulted in some formidable firsts for women.  Although the percentage of women in the U.S. Congress still remains low (18%), they broke several glass ceilings.  Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate; Tammy Duckworth the first disabled veteran in Congress; Tulsi Gabbard the first Hindu in Congress; and Mazie Hirono the first Asian-American woman in the Senate. However, there is still much unfinished business for the feminist agenda and an imperative need to secure the gains that have been made.  To do that, more women must run for national office.  How can women candidates get started in politics?  Is there a pipeline and if not can one be created? In the late 1980’s, a small group of women gathered in Santa Barbara, California and asked the question: can women have a significant impact by acting locally?  Reflecting on 25 years of political activism, the answer is an unqualified yes.  The following narrative describes how these feminists created a pipeline using an activist model. The Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee (SBWPC) was established in January of 1988, with a raucous reception in a popular watering hole that brought out 250 women and men.  Betty Friedan was the keynote speaker that evening and anti-choice opponents picketed the event.  The time was right to organize! sbwpc-logoFrom the beginning, the SBWPC defined itself as a feminist organization.  Their mission states: “The Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee is dedicated to furthering gender equality and other feminist values through political and social action, and educational activities.  As a political action committee, we endorse the candidacies of women and men who actively support our goals and promote a feminist agenda.” During these 25 years, the SBWPC has pursued gender equity through many avenues but with the specific focus of creating social change through public policy.  The theory that female elected officials would do more to make a difference in the lives of women has since been documented by academic institutes like the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University.  Additional research from Stanford has demonstrated that female legislators perform better than their male counterparts once in office. To attain gender equity, the SBWPC aimed to achieve representational balance by electing feminist women to public office.  Over these years, the organization has supported many women for school boards, city councils, boards of supervisors, the state legislature, California statewide offices, congress and the presidency. During the 1990’s, more women began to run for office in Santa Barbara.  Since 1999, the county has been represented by a woman in congress.  Women have comprised as much as 80% of the County Board of Supervisors, served as mayors, District Attorney, and in both houses of the state legislature. They also hold many positions on school boards and local commissions. Since 1988, the SBWPC had endorsed 95 candidates.  A total of fifty-six of those were women (59%).  Only four of the women lost. All candidates endorsed the feminist agenda. The success of the organization is best demonstrated by the impact these women have had on public policy and governance.  Issues and legislation introduced by women elected to office in Santa Barbara have covered a broad range of topics:

  • Congresswoman Lois Capps has been committed to women and families by supporting legislation on health care, the environment and education including the Affordable Health Care Act;
  • State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson has emphasized domestic violence and reproductive rights.  Jackson’s legislation has assisted victims of abuse and created access to affordable reproductive care.
  • District Attorney Joyce Dudley has worked to expand rape laws, eliminate rape kit backlogs and increase timely testing of all kits.
  • The late County Supervisor Naomi Schwartz chaired both the local First Five Children’s Commission and the California Coastal Commission making children and the environment her hallmark issues.
  • County Supervisor Janet Wolf has focused on health care and gender balance in public appointments.  Wolf has worked to expand breast cancer digital mammography services for under-served women.
  • As Mayor of the City of Santa Barbara, Helene Schneider has established a focus on fair pay, housing, homelessness, human services and education.

In its early days, the SBWPC founding board of directors created a set of tools that enabled them to ensure the election of feminist women to office.  They include:

  • Position papers;
  • Recruitment of women candidates;
  • Campaign skills workshops;
  • Candidate assessment teams;
  • Endorsements;
  • State and federal PAC money; and
  • Media strategies.

These tools are still in place today and guide the board in their decision-making. The question of supporting male candidates arose in the early years.  On the occasions when they did not have women candidates, the SBWPC endorsed men who, in turn, supported their agenda.  As a result of this policy, today the endorsement of the SBWPC is highly sought after by all candidates in Santa Barbara. Many of the first candidates to be endorsed by the PAC were founding board members.  As they left the board to run for office, others took their place.  The board itself became a source for candidates, creating an early pipeline.  Some went on to join public boards and commissions and others became staff members to the newly elected women.  As part of their current organizational structure, the SBWPC has a standing pipeline committee that focuses on recruiting women for future elections. In Santa Barbara County, women have achieved political and electoral success by grass roots organizing, marching, mentoring, advocating and campaigning.  As a result of these efforts, the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee has created a culture where women in public office are the norm not the exception. The organizational model developed by the SBWPC has been tried and tested over the years. It can be replicated in other communities.  It has worked on a local level, why not nationally? If you or your organization would like to submit a guest blog post to footnotes, please email Kelly Dittmar at kdittmar@rci.rutgers.edu.

If Gloria Steinem asked you to run…

“We need more good women to run,” feminist icon Gloria Steinem tells The Good Wife’s Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguiles) on last Sunday’s episode. Until that point, Alicia had all but closed the door on running for State’s Attorney of Illinois, despite other attempts to persuade her by political insiders and prominent women like Valerie Jarrett. It was Steinem, however, whose endorsement may have made the difference in Alicia’s decision to run (or not), and only time (and another episode) will tell if she takes on the challenge. Steinem_GoodWifeWatching a fictional female character grapple with the complexities involved in making the decision to run for office on prime time television is a new and important point of cultural progress. In this show, Alicia is a potential candidate not due to the death of a man (see Commander in Chief, Madame Secretary), but because she’s deemed best qualified and most favored to do the job (Yes, her husband is the governor - a worthy topic for another blog post).  Moreover, her aversion to putting her name forward is not simply due to familial responsibilities, though she references the time crunch she is under (to which Steinem responds: “Show me a woman who isn’t overwhelmed”). She considers the impact of her potential bid on her business, her career, her personal principles (repeatedly saying “I’m not a politician”), and her family. That calculus is much more in line with research on women’s paths to political office, especially the “relationally-embedded decision-making”that CAWP scholars Susan Carroll and Kira Sanbonmatsu have outlined in their book More Women Can Run (2013). After analyzing survey data from state legislators throughout the U.S., they explain, “Women’s decision making about officeholding is more likely to be influenced by the beliefs and reactions, both real and perceived, of other people and to involve considerations of how candidacy and officeholding would affect the lives of others with whom the potential candidate has close relationships” (45). Which brings us back to Steinem. Carroll and Sanbonmatsu also find that encouragement matters to women, and it matters more in their calculus to run than it does in men’s decision-making. Moreover, the most influential sources of recruitment for women to run are political ones like party leaders, elected or appointed officials, or potentially prominent political activists. In discussions about women’s political recruitment, someone inevitably throws out a number of times that a woman needs to be asked to run before she actually does it; seven, three, five, we’ve heard them all. However, the research doesn’t point to any magic number of asks needed to spark a woman’s political ambition. Instead, the research shows that who asks, what case they can make, and how much support they provide can go far in moving a woman like Alicia Florrick from the “sidelines” to the ballot.

Could women lead in the Northeast?

northeastYesterday’s primaries highlighted the success of women as gubernatorial nominees in three northeastern states: Massachusetts (Martha Coakley), New Hampshire (Maggie Hassan), and Rhode Island (Gina Raimondo). While Governor Hassan was elected two years ago, the potential election of Coakley and Raimondo in November would add two new women governors to a region where Hassan is currently the sole female at the helm. Both women also have the potential to make history; Gina Raimondo would be the first woman governor in Rhode Island and Martha Coakley would be the first woman elected governor in Massachusetts, where Jane Swift was elected lieutenant governor and became governor from 2001 to 2003 after the incumbent governor resigned (see CAWP's fact sheet on the history of women governors). If all three women are elected in November, women will serve as governors in one-third of northeastern states, and two-thirds of all northeastern states can say they have had women governors. Finally, based on election forecasts, it’s possible that nearly half of the women elected governor this year will be from the Northeast (see CAWP's Election Watch 2014).  These facts cut both ways; there is potential for a record number of women governors serving simultaneously from the region, but with 36 gubernatorial seats up this year and only nine women earning nominations, we’re unlikely to break any nationwide records for women serving as top state executives. Even more, three northeastern states have still never elected women governors (ME, NY, and PA). Primary results from yesterday’s contests in MA, NH, NY, and RI also yielded some strong numbers for women down ballot. In Massachusetts, this fall’s ballot will include female major party nominees for five of the state’s six statewide elected executive posts. In Rhode Island, three of five statewide elected executive elections will include female major party nominees. And while Governor Hassan holds and will run for re-election to the state’s only elected executive post, she will be joined on the ballot by women candidates for each congressional race (including a woman-versus-woman race in CD 2), with the potential to uphold New Hampshire’s history-making status as the only state with an all-female congressional delegation and woman governor. Connecticut, which held its primary last month, nominated women to run for four of six statewide elected executive posts, with two women competing against each other to be lieutenant governor. In New York, however, lieutenant governor nominee Kathy Hochul is the only woman in a general election bid for statewide elected executive office this year. Other northeastern states will be similarly low on women in statewide elected executive offices next year, with no women competing for posts in PA (where Allyson Schwartz and Kathleen McGinty were defeated in the primary race for governor) or ME (where governor is the only statewide elected post). Incumbent State Treasurer Beth Pearce will seek re-election to one of Vermont’s six statewide elected executive offices, and, with no female congressional candidates this year, that state will continue to be one of only four states that has never sent a woman to Congress. New Jersey, where a woman holds one of two statewide elected posts, is the only northeastern state not holding statewide executive elections this year. Recent analyses have questioned whether there are glass ceilings for women in the Northeast, especially in statehouses, and yesterday’s results do not provide any definitive proof that those ceilings have been or will be broken. However, they evidence some noteworthy progress and potential for making history this year, and a promise of more stories to tell after November 4th.

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