Publication Date

Spring 2003


Research has shown that when they run, women candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives are as successful as their male counterparts in fundraising for and winning their elections. However, female candidates continue to face numerous barriers to becoming candidates and winning their races. This analysis is an investigation of another potential barrier to the success of women candidates, the recent ban on soft money contributions to federal level campaigns. Following analysis of the sources and average totals of campaign financing for male and female, Democratic and Republican candidates in the 2000 and 2002 elections, it can be noted that soft money contributions directly contribute to a candidate's electoral success. The more soft money donated to a candidate's campaign, the more likely that candidate is to win. Republican women stand to be affected by the ban on soft money more than any other group, as they received the largest average amount of soft money and rely on that source of campaign contribution more than the other candidate type. The loss of soft money contributions may decrease the number of Republican women who become candidates and win their elections. It may also influence the ideological basis of many Republican women's campaigns and voting patterns. Meanwhile, Democratic women rely on the least amount of soft money contributions and are therefore unlikely to be affected as candidates or in their behavior as congresswomen.


Political Science