Study (conducted by the National Women's...


September 20, 1994

A COMPREHENSIVE study (conducted by the National Women's Political Caucus) of the success rates of men and women candidates in general elections for state legislatures, U.S. Congress and governor finds a candidate's gender did not affect his or her chances of winning general elections. It found that success rates for male and female candidates were virtually identical at every level of office.

The research showed that, for the most part, incumbency -- not sex -- determines electoral success.

A recent NWPC poll found two-thirds of voters believe women have a tougher time getting elected to office than men do. NWPC Executive Director Jody Newman, the author of the study, wrote that one reason for such a perception is that most incumbents are men, and incumbents win far more often than challengers and open-seat candidates. But when male incumbents were compared to female incumbents, men running for open seats to women running for open seats and male challengers to female challengers, women won as high a percentage of their races as men.

The study also found that women incumbents running for re-election had opposition more frequently than men did: 68 percent of women incumbents in State House races were challenged in the general election (only 62 percent of men); in the state senate, 75 percent of female incumbents faced general election opposition (compared to 65 percent of male incumbents); for the U.S. House, 95 percent of women incumbents had general election opposition, compared to 85 percent of men.

And in the heralded 1992 Year of the Woman, success rates for women were still extremely similar to those for men. There were just more women running, thanks to the unusually high number of open seats available, due to redistricting and retirements. Twenty-two of the 24 new women elected to the House in 1992 won in open seats.

It was not possible to make meaningful generalizations or comparisons between men and women in Senate and governors' races (since so few women have run), but the study found no evidence that women were less likely than men to win these offices.

-- The Hotline, the Daily Briefing on American Politics, quoting a NWPC release.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.