Graduation Year

2014

Graduation Month

December

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Political Science

Major

Political Science – American Politics

Faculty Mentor

Christopher Muste

Faculty Mentor Department

Political Science

Keywords

women, campaign, congress, campaign finance, underrepresentation

Subject Categories

American Politics

Abstract

Nearly 100 years after gaining the right to vote, women are nowhere near reaching equal representation in the United States Congress. Although this is likely due to a range of factors, the possibility that women remain underrepresented because of a campaign financing disadvantage is explored in this research. While there is a rich body of literature comparing how male and female Congressional candidates finance their campaigns, previous research has not compared the net worth of male and female members of Congress or how net worth affects the amount of campaign receipts a candidate receives. Additionally, the self-financing patterns of male and female candidates and the effect of self-financing on campaign success for each gender have not been explored.

This research addresses these gaps in the campaign finance literature by testing the following four hypotheses: female members of Congress have lower net worth than male members, wealthy members are able to capture a larger amount of campaign receipts than less wealthy members, female candidates rely on self-financing more than male candidates, and females who self-finance earn a lower percentage of the general election vote than male self-financing candidates. My analysis reveals that a member’s net worth is positively correlated with campaign receipts, so I can accept my second hypothesis. However, I must reject the other three hypotheses and conclude that women do not appear to be at a significant campaign financing disadvantage when net worth and self-financing are considered.

Honors College Research Project

Yes

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© Copyright 2014 Sara M. Thane