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Which Women Can Run? Gender, Partisanship, and Candidate Donor Networks

June 2017

Danielle M. Thomsen , Michele L. Swers


This study found that in both primary and general elections, female Democrats received significantly more donations from female donors than male Democrats. Similarly, male Democrats received significantly more donations from male donors than female Democrats. This suggests than Democratic men and women likely have differing donor networks. However, the same cannot be said for Republicans. Candidate gender makes no difference for Republican donors, suggesting than male and female Republicans have similar donor networks.

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Policy Implications

The outcomes of this study suggest that the current campaign finance system and these existing donor networks benefit liberal female Democrats, as well as conservative Republicans. As these Democratic women often receive much of their fundraising through partisan, liberal women that seek descriptive representation, this leads to female Democrats often championing women’s rights policy. Republican women are unlikely to do the same as they are often very conservative.

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