Women’s voices are underrepresented in American politics because they are underrepresented as donors. The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, released today the latest report in our ongoing CAWP Women, Money, and Politics Series, which finds that women lag men as donors in recent elections for state offices. The Donor Gap: Raising Women’s Political Voices, an interactive experience using data visualizations, examines the intersection of campaign finance and gender from both the donor and recipient perspective, with state-by-state analysis and partisan breakdowns.
Critical takeaways from this report include:
- Men give a disproportionate amount of all money contributed, with women giving one-third or less of all money contributed to gubernatorial, statewide executive, and state legislative races from 2019 to 2022.
- In key 2022 abortion battlegrounds following the Dobbs decision, men’s campaign contributions exceeded women’s contributions to state races, reducing women’s opportunities for political influence.
- While there was wide variance between states in terms of women’s contributions in the 2022 elections, in all states men out-gave women in the total amount contributed.
- There are also partisan differences in women’s giving. Women are more likely to give to Democrats, and they are especially likely to give to Democratic women.
- But the total amount contributed by men to Democratic state candidates exceeds the total amount contributed by women.
- Women are poorly represented as donors to Republican state candidates, giving less than one-quarter of the total money contributed.
- Within both parties, women give disproportionately to women.
“Increasing women’s giving can expand resources for women candidates,” said report author and CAWP Senior Scholar Kira Sanbonmatsu. “While women have outvoted men for decades, voters can’t cast ballots for candidates who lack the resources to run. Enhancing women’s impact as donors can help create a more representative democracy.”
This is a matter of urgent potential. Women candidates are formidable fundraisers. But, as women donors are more likely to support women candidates, a key donor block for women in politics is underdeveloped.
- Women are successful fundraisers. In mixed-gender nonincumbent state house/assembly primaries from 2019-2022, women candidates led the money race at rates similar to men.
- Regardless of racial and ethnic background, incumbent women state legislators typically fared the same or better than men in whether they faced a monetarily competitive opponent in the general election.
- But even Democratic women face challenges in campaign fundraising. They are more reliant on small contributions ($200 or less) and are significantly less likely to fund their own campaigns.
- Women are much less likely to be incumbents, and incumbents usually outraise their opponents. Just eight of the 28 governors running for re-election in 2022 were women. Seven of those women were white and one was Latina.
- In 2022 mixed-gender nonincumbent gubernatorial primaries, white women fared better financially than women from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. And women from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups were less likely to enter winnable races than white women.
More giving could help women achieve more opportunities for equal political power and influence.
Read the full report, The Donor Gap: Raising Women’s Political Voices, on the CAWP website. This is the fourth report in the CAWP Women, Money, and Politics series, undertaken in collaboration with OpenSecrets; previous reports in the series can be found here. This research is made possible thanks to the generosity and commitment of Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda French Gates company. In the spring, CAWP will launch regular tracking and analysis of campaign fundraising in the 2024 elections as part of the CAWP Women, Money, and Politics Series.
Daniel De Simone: email@example.com; 760.703.0948