Speaking with Authority (2001)

Conclusion

The results of our survey confirm that the dominant issues in the current environment make it tougher for female candidates to gain voter confidence. National security, in particular, is a challenging issue for female candidates, especially among male voters.

As we go to print, voter anxiety about terrorist threats and national security is taking a back seat to concern over the economy. However, should the country once again face the kinds of threats we faced in 2001, many of the same concerns will likely move to the forefront of voters’ minds once again.

As detailed in this guide, female candidates can level the playing field by honing in on specific messages and language when speaking on national security issues and the economy. When voters hear those messages from female candidates, they can be competitive with their male opponents in discussing both national security and the economy.

Even if voters’ gender biases will be with us for a while, women candidates can employ strategies to help them succeed in the short run and broaden voter perceptions of their expertise over the long run.