Just One-Third of State Political Donors Are Women
Women are not only underrepresented as political candidates across the country, they’re also underrepresented as donors.
Driving the news: Women donors made up just 29% to 33% of the contributions to general election candidates at statewide and state legislative levels between 2019 and 2022.
- That’s according to a new report on the “donor gap” from Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics using data from OpenSecrets.
Why it matters: While women are registered to vote at higher rates than men, they remain disproportionately absent from the halls of political power — and from the political donations that fuel those halls.
What’s happening: The underrepresentation of women candidates and donors are entwined, Kira Sanbonmatsu, a Rutgers political science professor and the report’s lead researcher told Axios.
- “We’re not able to disentangle which comes first … it’s a mutually reinforcing relationship,” she said.
- It also is inextricable from a persistent gender wealth gap, she said.
- About 50.4% of the U.S. population is female, per census data.
Zoom in: Female donors on both sides of the aisle disproportionately support women candidates, according to the report.
- However, the pattern is stronger among Democratic women. For example, women donors accounted for 49% of the money given to Democratic women statehouse candidates, compared to 36% of contributions to male candidates.
- For Republican women statehouse members, meanwhile, women donors accounted for 29% of total donations, compared to 21% of the money given to men.
The big picture: While the report found the disparity to be worse in some states — just 14% of Nebraska’s contributions in 2022 were from women, 17% of Illinois’ and 18% of Alabama’s — no state had contributions equivalent to their female population last year.
- Colorado came in on top with 46% to its 49% female population.
- “It’s not unique to any state,” Sanbonmatsu said.
Of note: States without regular elections in 2022 were excluded from the data.
The intrigue: Across the country, Democratic women outnumber Republican women as candidates at all levels, the report says.