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Should Women Win More Often than Men? The Roots of Electoral Success and Gender Bias in U.S. House Elections

Kathryn Pearson

University of Minnesota

Eric McGhee

Public Policy Institute of California

April 29, 2013

Extensive research shows that when women run for Congress, they win as often as men. We find that these gender neutral electoral outcomes mask important differences between men’s and women’s candidacies. Analyzing new data on non-incumbent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1984 to 2010, we show that women in both parties are more qualified than men. In addition, Democratic women raise more money and run in more politically favorable districts than their male counterparts do, enhancing their viability and chances of success. When these advantages are included in multivariate models predicting victory, Democratic women are actually somewhat less likely to win than Democratic men. Republican women, by contrast, have fewer advantages than Democratic women, and they are less likely to win than men at the bivariate level and in models that include their advantages and disadvantages as multivariate controls, revealing important partisan differences in women’s candidacies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Women in politics, congressional elections, American politics, gender politics

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Date posted: April 28, 2013 ; Last revised: April 29, 2013

Suggested Citation

Pearson, Kathryn and McGhee, Eric, Should Women Win More Often than Men? The Roots of Electoral Success and Gender Bias in U.S. House Elections (April 29, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2257402 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2257402

Contact Information

Kathryn Pearson (Contact Author)
University of Minnesota ( email )
110 Wulling Hall, 86 Pleasant St, S.E.
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
Eric McGhee
Public Policy Institute of California ( email )
500 Washington Street
Suite 800
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States
415-291-4439 (Phone)
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