Our Key Findings: What are today’s voters looking for in women candidates?
- “Different” is a good thing for women in politics. Our research reveals that 4 in 10 voters say that female elected officials are a lot or somewhat different from male officials. In a time when Americans are frustrated by the political status quo, an “outsider” status is a good thing!
- Voters attribute certain personal characteristics to women. For instance, Democratic women are seen as more likely to take on special interests when compared to male Republicans, but male candidates are typically seen as more confident. Republican women can benefit from their “outsider” status, but Democratic men are still more likely to be seen as “strong leaders.”
- Voters perceive women as stronger on certain issues than their male counterparts. Republican women are considered stronger than Democratic men on the economy and taxes, and though Republicans are traditionally considered to be weak on education and health care, Republican women can neutralize those disadvantages. And when it comes to education and health care, voters believe Democratic women vastly outperform Republican men.
- Illustrating achievements is a better strategy than focusing on a woman’s biography. Why say you’re a “small business owner” when you can say you’re a “business leader who created jobs?” Our previous research illustrates that it’s important for women candidates to demonstrate likeability and strong qualifications, and focusing on concrete, measurable accomplishments is a great way for women to assert that they’re qualified.
- Gender and race both impact voters’ views, and these traits interact with each other. It’s especially important for both African American Democratic women candidates and Latina Republican candidates to show they are running because they saw the impact of an issue and they have been a leader in the community.