Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


Women make up about 50% of the American population but currently only 24% of Congress. This persistent underrepresentation is a matter of concern because Congress often votes on issues that disproportionately affect women. Prior research has established a consistent set of variables that factor into the supply of and demand for women in elected offices, namely incumbency, party, district characteristics, candidate characteristics and voter stereotypes. In 1992, deemed the “Year of the Woman” where a record number of women won seats in Congress, an increased number of those candidates embraced stereotypically female strengths and employed those in their campaign strategies. Is “running as a woman” an effective strategy when a female candidate is pitted against a male candidate? There is a gap in the literature on the factors that explicitly affect whether and under what conditions female candidates can outperform male opponents. This research seeks to address that deficiency by directly examining whether “running as a woman” affects a female candidate’s likelihood of success against a male opponent in a focused-structured comparison of seven such races in the 2018 Midterm elections. Analysis of campaign materials reveals that emphasizing gender is a useful campaign strategy for women.