Speaking with Authority (2001)


The Barbara Lee Family Foundation commissioned Democrat Celinda Lake from Lake Snell Perry & Associates (LSPA), in consultation with Republican Linda DiVall from American Viewpoint, Inc., and Democrat Mary Hughes from Staton & Hughes, to conduct a multi-part project on women running for governor.

The 1998 exit poll data from selected states were analyzed as a starting point for further polling and focus groups. Ten focus groups were conducted in five cities during February and March 2000, and a national random sample survey was conducted from May 8-15, 2000. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with candidates, campaign staff, consultants and reporters in 10 states where women were candidates for governor in 1998. The 10 states included in the study were Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Evaluation of 1998 Exit Poll Data

LSPA purchased exit poll data from Voter News Service for all states where data were available. Included were nine of the 10 races in which women ran for governor (no data were available for Hawaii).

LSPA categorized the state-level data into states where female candidates ran against male candidates for governor and states where two men ran against each other; the data were divided further to control for partisanship and incumbency status. LSPA then used a set of independent demographic variables to detect trends where women were candidates.

Campaign Interviews

In the fall of 1999, Staton & Hughes conducted in-depth interviews with Democratic and Republican interviewers in the 10 states where women ran for governor in 1998 to identify common themes related to female gubernatorial candidates and their campaigns.

A total of 45 respondents, including candidates, campaign managers, finance directors, press secretaries, consultants and reporters were interviewed.

Focus Groups

LSPA conducted 10 focus groups during March 2000 to uncover the nuances of voters’ opinions, including their feelings, beliefs and perceptions about women running for governor.

The analysis of the 1998 exit poll data revealed that white senior citizens and younger men are least likely to vote for women for governor. For this reason, a disproportionate share of the focus groups were held among these universes of voters, rather than universes such as African American men and women.

Focus groups were conducted in the Spring of 2000 among the following audiences in the following locations:

National Survey

LSPA designed and administered a telephone survey between May 8 and May 15, 2000. The survey included 1,375 likely voters nationwide: 500 likely voters in 43 states plus the District of Columbia and 125 likely voters each in Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Washington (considered “women friendly” states for their history of electing women to statewide office). The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/- 2.6 percentage points. The margin of sampling error associated with demographic or geographic subgroups is larger and depends upon the sample size of the subgroup.