What to Watch: Women, Money, & Politics Watch 2024

We recently launched CAWP’s Women, Money, & Politics Watch 2024—a project that will follow the gender implications of campaign finance with the help of data from OpenSecrets. We’re analyzing major party candidates – women and men – in congressional and state elections with a focus on money raised from individuals including self-financed contributions. We’ll also be exploring the demographics of donors.  

What We’re Watching

Our data visualizations, powered by Graphicacy, are interactive, offering views of the data by candidate gender, party, and incumbency status, as well as women’s racial/ethnic background. 

Here’s what we’re watching: 

Total Raised from Individuals: Who’s winning the money race for individual donors?

In previous reports in CAWP’s Women, Money, and Politics Series, we analyzed the role of money in statewide executive and state legislative races post-election. (See The Donor Gap for our most recent report.)

We found overall that women are formidable fundraisers who can raise similar amounts to men when running in similar races. Yet, we also found challenges for women from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds and Republican women. Incumbents are overwhelmingly men. Thus, women are less likely to reap the financial benefits of incumbency. 

We’ll be watching to see if women have sufficient resources to power their campaigns and looking to see how women’s party affiliation and race/ethnicity interact with fundraising totals. 

Self-Financing: Do women lag men in the likelihood of self-financing their campaigns?

We’ve studied the relationship between self-financed contributions, gender, and race/ethnicity in state legislative and statewide executive elections in our previous reports. Self-financing is important to watch. Women control less wealth and earn less; therefore, they’re less likely to have the ability to fund their own campaigns and more likely to encounter a challenging fundraising path

We’ll be watching to see what role self-financing plays in 2024 and whether there are gender and racial/ethnic disparities in which candidates can afford to contribute to their own campaigns.

Small Contributions: Are women raising more of their contributions from donations $200 or less?

In our previous work in CAWP’s Women, Money, and Politics Series, we analyzed the structure of campaign receipts to see if women are more reliant on small contributions in state legislative and statewide executive races. Small contributions may be a mechanism for women, who have been historically underrepresented as candidates, to compete with men’s personal financial networks. At the same time, raising more contributions through smaller denominations may make fundraising more time-intensive.

We’re following this story in 2024 to determine if women are tapping these smaller contributions more than men, and whether there are differences in women’s fundraising patterns by race/ethnicity and political party. 


Initial Takeaways

In our first 2024 release, called The State View: A Deep Dive into 10 States, we’ve introduced our 10 key focus states, most of which are battlegrounds and represent different regions and partisan dynamics, and provide campaign finance data on fundraising recipients in congressional races (displaying campaign finance data available through January 31, 2024). The states are: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington. 

In our Deep Dive states, we’re seeing women – from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds – competing in some of the most competitive congressional races, often leading the money race. In some cases, however, women are trailing their men counterparts — including women running as incumbents. While money doesn’t guarantee victory, the costs of campaigns are escalating, and resources help candidates reach and mobilize their supporters. 

We’re also seeing that in some of the open seats likely to elect a Republican, no women have reported campaign finance data. Candidate filing deadlines have not yet passed in most of the states we’re following. We will be updating these numbers as new campaign finance data becomes available in the spring.

So far, we’re seeing support for two trends we’ve seen in our previous reports: when comparisons are made by party and election type, women are usually less likely than men to have self-financed contributions and more likely to be raising money through contributions of $200 or less. These gender differences suggest that women and men continue to rely on different fundraising strategies.  

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for our first Donor Demographics release in April, updates to The State View: A Deep Dive into 10 States in May (including our first analysis of state legislative and statewide executive races in several of our key states), and our expansion to all congressional races in August. Our Donor Demographics analysis will expand on CAWP’s The Donor Gap report released last fall, in which we examined two decades of women’s participation – and underrepresentation – as donors in state elections. This cycle, we’ll extend the donor analysis to the congressional level and to other donor demographics including race/ethnicity. This analysis will provide insight into whose voices are being heard in American politics today. Donors shape the candidate pool and help candidates reach the ballot — and win. 

Kira Sanbonmatsu

Kira Sanbonmatsu is Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and Senior Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. Her research interests include gender, race/ethnicity, parties, public opinion, and state politics. Her most recent book, coauthored with Kelly Dittmar and Susan J. Carroll, is A Seat at the Table: Congresswomen's Perspectives on Why Their Presence Matters (Oxford University Press, 2018). She is also the coauthor (with Susan J. Carroll) of More Women Can Run: Gender and Pathways to the State Legislatures(Oxford University Press, 2013). Sanbonmatsu coauthored the CAWP reports Representation Matters: Women in the U.S. Congress (2017) and Poised to Run: Women's Pathways to the State Legislatures (2009). She is also the author of Where Women Run: Gender and Party in the American States (University of Michigan Press, 2006) and Democrats, Republicans, and the Politics of Women's Place (University of Michigan Press, 2002). Her articles have appeared in such journals as American Journal of Political Science, Politics & Gender, and Party Politics. She co-edits the CAWP Series in Gender and American Politics at the University of Michigan Press with Susan J. Carroll. Sanbonmatsu received her B.A. from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and her Ph.D. from Harvard University. She was previously Associate Professor of Political Science at The Ohio State University.

Shikshya Adhikari

Shikshya Adhikari is the Research Associate at the Center for American Women and Politics. She has three years of experience working as a mixed-methods researcher and managing research projects at the Center for Policy Research, University at Albany. She has also worked for disaster response projects at CARE Nepal for two years, where she conducted baseline...