Female Breadwinners More Likely to Support Democratic Campaigns

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Photo: Win McNamee/2013 Getty Images

The thousands of women who watched Wendy Davis defend Texas abortion clinics and opened their wallets probably have something to do with the state senator’s fund-raising momentum and soon-to-be-announced entry into the state governor race. But nationwide the relationship between female representation and female campaign contributions is murkier. As women make record gains in Congress, they’ve barely budged on the gender gap in campaign donations, according to a recent study from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. In 1990, there were 31 women in Congress, and women made up 22 percent of campaign contributions over $200. Now there are 101 women on the Hill, and women still only account for 25 percent of donations. 

Few will be surprised that women donate most consistently and most influentially to congressional Democrats — making up almost half of the donations to women like Tammy Baldwin, Claire McCaskill, and Elizabeth Warren. More interesting, women’s donations are polarizing along domestic lines, with female breadwinners moving to the left and self-identified homemakers moving right. Women who work outside the home, once less likely to support Democrats, gave nearly 60 percent of their campaign donations to Democrats, up 18 percent since 1990. Just 37 percent of the donations that came from homemakers went to Democrats, down 5 percent since 1990.