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Do Parties Know That “Women Win”? Party Leader Beliefs about Women's Electoral Chances

  • Kira Sanbonmatsu (a1)

Women's groups emphasize the view that women are viable candidates in American politics with the popular slogan “when women run, women win.” What do party leaders believe about women's electoral chances? Do parties know that “women win”? In an analysis of state legislative election results, I find few gender differences in candidates' vote share and success rates—two widely used measures of the status of women candidates. Yet I find that many party leaders report that one gender has an electoral advantage. These party leader perceptions are related to the objective measures of women's electoral success to some extent. However, most analyses reveal a gap between elite perceptions and objective measures of women's status as candidates. This disjuncture suggests that scholars may have overestimated the extent of party leader and voter support for women.I thank Timothy Frye, Claudine Gay, Kathryn Pearson, Beth Reingold, Lisa Sanbonmatsu, the editors, and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. I also thank Nanaho Hanada, Heidi Bruns, Lyndsey Young, Huma Khan, and Tina Pierce for research assistance.

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