If politics is a conversation, every American has a voice. re-election, which means they're often highly sensitive to the views of their constituents. author of a recent book on political activism, "You're More Powerful Than You Think: A After President Trump's election, for example, a small group of progressively minded. independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results. The burgeoning field of gender and political behavior shows that the way in which and groups of men and women shifted their voting behavior, yielding new differences. Smooth () points out that Democratic support among Latinas and black .. In contrast, other cross-national studies find little relationship between.
Large donors were more opposed to core progressive policies including the Affordable Care Act, Waxman-Markey, Dodd-Frank and the stimulus plan than average Americans. Male donors and white donors have different preferences than women and people of color who donate to political campaigns.
Male donors are less supportive of reproductive justice, and white donors are less supportive of immigration reform and action on climate change. Democratic donors are far more closely aligned with the interests of Democratic voters than Republican donors are with Republican voters. Republican and Independent donors are far more conservative than Republican and Independent voters, respectively.
This means that donors push the American political system to the right. The nearly all-white elite donors diverge from average public opinion by wide margins on key economic issues. Depending on the issue, there are significant policy preference gaps between elite donors and non-donors, particularly when examined by race, gender, and class. In this report, we examine elite donors both in terms of demographic characteristics and policy preferences, drawing on two different data sets—Catalist and Cooperative Congressional Election Survey.
The report is structured as follows. In Section I, we outline the growing body of research demonstrating that money in politics skews our elections and policy outcomes in favor of economic elites, which illuminates why the donor disparities we analyze here are so important. In Section II, we examine the demographic characteristics of donors, and in Section III we examine the policy preferences of donors and how they diverge from those of non-donors, especially when broken down by race, gender, and class.
In this section we also explore how white male donors, whose donations make up a disproportionate share of campaign contributions, differ from other donors. Section IV explores the policy preferences of the elite donors compared to small donors and non-donors. Finally, the report outlines a set of reforms that could limit the power of big donors and lead to a more representative democracy. Why Donor Disparities Matter The disparities Demos finds in our analysis of donor demographics and policy preferences underscore why the current big money system for funding campaigns is so problematic: This imbalance generates political and policy outcomes that favor the rich and leave most Americans behind.
While we cannot provide a comprehensive analysis of how money in politics impacts electoral and policy outcomes in this report, there is growing evidence that campaign giving deeply affects who runs for office, who gets elected and what policies they pursue once in office. This evidence makes clear that the disparities reflected in the donor class, particularly by race, gender, and class, are not just about political inequality but also about socioeconomic inequality.
The inequalities that drive campaign funding matter greatly in our everyday lives. Donors play a powerful role in determining who wins primaries, and thus, who eventually wins the general election. Research suggests that the better-funded candidate nearly always wins the primary and, given that many seats are uncompetitive, the general election. Candidates also spend a large portion of their campaigns vying for the attention of donors, rather than voters, which can lead them to be more interested in the concerns of donors than voters.
One study concludes, for example, that one-third of Congressional roll call votes were influenced by campaign contributions. As the share of state campaign financing that comes from corporations increases, policy in the state becomes more favorable to business. For instance, companies that contribute more to federal candidates receive more government contracts.
Financial markets also provide evidence that money influences politics. Unfortunately, the answers we provide in this report demonstrate that those who wield the money in our political system are decidedly not representative of Americans as a whole, particularly when examined by race and gender as well as class.
The Demographics Of Donors While there has been significant discussion of the power of donors, there has been little systematic research on the demographics of donors. Using Catalist, a voter database used by progressive politicians and organizations see Appendix A for methodological detailswe are able to describe the characteristics of congressional donors in both andas well as of donors to presidential candidates in They are also more likely to be men. These gaps are especially pronounced at the highest levels of the donor pool.
Using a pioneering new method to explore the race, gender and class divides of donors, we can systematically investigate the demographics of donors see Appendix A. While three-quarters of the adult population is white, and about 63 percent of the total population is white, 91 percent of donors in and 92 percent of donors in were white. African Americans, who make up 12 percent of the adult population, made up only 4 percent of donors in and 3 percent of donors in As Figure 1 shows, the highest echelons of the donor pool are the least diverse, and the donor pool was slightly more diverse than the donor pool.
There is also a sharp gender divide between congressional donors and the adult population, as Figure 2 illustrates. Men make up slightly less than half of the population, but comprise 63 percent of donors in and 66 percent of donors in The wealth gap between elite donors and everyone else both non-donors and small donors is even more extreme, as Figure 3 shows.
Among elite congressional donors, 45 percent are millionaires. To explore how the donor bases differ between the two parties, we examined donors to Republican and Democratic candidates during the presidential election. On the Democratic side, this was almost entirely comprised of donors to the Obama campaign, since he had no major opposition in the primary Donors to the campaign of Mitt Romney, the eventual Republican presidential nominee, made up 70 percent of the total Republican presidential donor pool.
Both Republicans and Democrats draw from an overwhelmingly white donor pool, though the Democratic donor pool is more diverse, especially at smaller donation levels. African Americans make up 12 percent of the population, and 8 percent of the Democratic donor pool, but 1 percent of Republican donors. Asians comprise a representative share of the Democratic donor pool 3 percent but only 1 percent of the Republican donor pool.
Latinos were underrepresented in the donor pools of both parties relative to their share of the adult population. Though Latinos made up 9 percent of adults inthey comprise only 2 percent of Republican and Democratic donors. Women made up 49 percent of donors in the Democratic presidential donor pool, but only 30 percent in the Republican donor pool.
However, this pattern was more extreme on the right. People of color make up 12 percent of donors to Democratic presidential candidates, but 4 percent to Republican candidates. Millionaires only make up 3 percent of the adult population, but 25 percent of Democratic donors and 27 percent of Republican donors were members of this rarified group.
Native Americans make up 0. Native Americans donate relatively equally to candidates from both parties. The sample includes 54 Native Americans donors to both the Republican and Democratic parties. Thus, few small donations are recorded with the FEC. To address this problem, we analyzed data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies CCESwhich includes prompts that permit respondents to voluntarily report small contributions.
We combined multiple CCES surveys, and so that we would have a very large sample, which enabled us to examine the race, gender and class characteristics of small donors with greater precision. As Figure 8 shows, people of color26 and women make up a smaller share of donors than they do of the general population. In addition, they make up a far smaller share of contributions. White men represent approximately 35 percent of the population, but they comprise 45 percent of donors and account for 57 percent of money contributed.
In the CCES Cumulative sample, women of color account for 13 percent of the adult population, but only 6 percent of money contributed. Black women made up 6 percent of the adult population, but 3 percent of contributions.
Latina women comprised 4 percent of the adult population, but 1 percent of total contributions. As Figure 9 shows, people of color, particularly women of color, are better represented in the small donor pool than among larger donors. Asian, Latina and black women make up 8 percent of the small donor pool, but less than 5 percent of the large donor pool and 11 percent of the adult population. For black and Latino people, small donations are far more common than larger contributions.
In short, donation patterns are marked by both racial and gender discrepancies, and these disparities often reinforce each other. Women of color are less likely to be donors than men of color, and their donations make up a smaller share of contributions. In much the same way, white women are less likely to donate than white men, and give in smaller amounts. The small donor pool is more diverse than the large donor pool, which provides support for the argument that a system of small donor matching could increase diversity.
Inthe largest contributor was Cecil R. The current research on the demographics and preferences of donors focuses primarily on relatively small donors, even though the largest donors account for a significant share of the donations. Further, most studies use relatively small sample surveys, leading to a small and unrepresentative sample of big donors. Some research has used the preferences of wealthy individuals as a proxy for those of political donors; but donors may differ in important ways from other wealthy people, making this approach inadequate for studying the preferences of donors.
Although concerns about racial justice and gender have become increasingly important in national politics, there has been no research as to how the preferences of donors differ across race, class and gender. As examined in Section 2, an emerging body of research suggests that politicians are more responsive to the preferences of their donors than of their constituents. One recent study finds that U. Senators are more responsive to donors than to co-partisans, although in election years they move more towards co-partisans.
Therefore, differences in the preferences of donors are important and may have implications for representation. In what follows, we use data from various rounds of the CCES to investigate the preferences of various donor groups on a wide range of policy issues.
By combining the,and CCES surveys, Demos and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst have assembled a dataset with a sufficient sample of very large donors to examine the preferences of this elite group in a rigorous way. On the whole, donors, particularly large donors, are more likely to oppose progressive change than are non-donors. White and male donors are more conservative than people of color and women donors. In addition, the biggest donors tend to be further to the extremes than non-donors.
These patterns point to the possibility that donors exert pressure on elected officials to adopt positions that diverge from those of ordinary citizens. However, the relationship between donor status and political preference is quite different within the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. While the preferences of Democratic donors tend to align fairly closely with those of non-donors who identify as Democrats, the preferences of Republican and Independent donors diverge significantly from those of Republican and Independent non-donors, particularly on policies related to redistribution and inequality.
Obama called for stronger federal action on climate change, extensive regulation of big banks, expanded health insurance and a massive federal stimulus package. To many wealthy Americans, such an agenda is anathema. Extensive research by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office suggests that it created or saved millions of jobs.
The bill would have created a cap and trade program to limit greenhouse gasses, set comprehensive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and subsidized renewable fuel and clean energy.
It aimed to achieve comprehensive health insurance and reduce the cost of healthcare in the United States. The ACA has largely proved successful at stemming the rate of growth in costs of healthcare and expanding access to health insurance, but it has also faced an almost unprecedented backlash from big donors.
Finally, the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill intended to regulate the financial sector was another key domestic priority for Obama. The law established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is tasked with regulating and eliminating predatory practices by big banks.
The reaction of donors to Dodd-Frank was overwhelming: The expansion of SCHIP was most popular, receiving more than three-quarters support, while the stimulus bill and healthcare reform law garnered a slight majority the question focuses on the individual mandate, which is the least popular part of the law.
Both Dodd-Frank and Waxman-Markey, which faced significant opposition from powerful interests, enjoyed more than 60 percent support among non-donors. All of these reforms except for strengthening SCHIP were opposed by the majority of this affluent group of donors.
Finally, just under half of large donors supported the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which established a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and helped restore stability to the financial system.
As Figure 11 shows, large donors stood in firm opposition to the progressive agenda supported by a vast majority of Americans. Ina large majority of Republican non-donors 64 percent supported a higher minimum wage, compared to 38 percent of Republican donors. Among independents the average preference gap was even larger: Many commentators point to large donors on the left and argue that these large donors level the playing field. Our analysis suggests this is not true, and the asymmetric polarization found in other spheres of democracy exists among donors as well, as Figure 12 illustrates.
This suggests the power of donors pulls American politics in a rightward direction. Among Democrats, a majority of both non-donors and donors supported the main pillars of the Obama agenda.
However, among Republicans there were deep divides between non-donors and donors. For instance, 55 percent of Republican non-donors supported expanding SCHIP, and 53 percent supported Dodd-Frank, while only about a third of donors supported each.
The differences in preferences between Independent non-donors and Independent donors were similar to those found among Republicans. Even at the highest donation level analyzed here, the differences in preferences between non-donors and donors were much larger within the GOP ranks than within the Democratic Party.
While some aspects of the Obama agenda were favored by a majority of Republican non-donors, large Republican donors were strongly opposed to all of it. Moreover, there were stark gaps between the preferences of Independent non-donors and those of Independent large donors. By using the compiled CCES file, we can explore the partisan identification of donors across multiple surveys see footnote for partisan identification of donors. As Figure 14 shows, donors are less likely to identify as Independents.
Democrats are well represented in the small donor pool, but dwindle somewhat at the higher echelons. Republicans, who make up 38 percent of the adult population, make up 46 percent of the largest donors. To the degree that white donors hold different preferences than donors of color, the racial disparity in campaign contributions could contribute to racial biases in representation. As Figure 15 shows, there are deep divides between the preferences of white donors and those of other groups, with white donors typically holding much more conservative views.
Adding both race and gender reveals even further disparities. Figure 16 shows donor support for key progressive policies across race and gender.
On the other hand, women donors of color supported all the reforms. Across every group examined, donors were much more conservative than non-donors on key issues related to the economy, and white male donors consistently expressed the most conservative preferences. These differences were often quite large. For example, while 70 percent of non-donors of color, 57 percent of donors of color, and 49 percent of white non-donors supported the stimulus, only 43 percent of white donors did.
Similarly, 72 percent of non-donors of color, 57 percent of donors of color, and 48 percent of white non-donors supported the health care reform bill, but only 44 percent of white donors did. In Table 1, we expand this analysis to incorporate gender differences as well as those based on race, comparing the proportion in support of each aspect of the Obama agenda across race, income, gender and donor status. On the whole, donors express more conservative preferences than do non-donors, and the groups that make up the overwhelming share of donors men, the rich, and white people are more conservative than those who do not donate.
Donors tend to be more conservative overall. Republican politicians supported harsh cuts to federal spending on seniors and the poor to rein in the debt, while Democrats argued in favor of a mix of tax hikes and cuts to defense spending. The Republican position hardened, and eventually they said that they would not accept any tax hikes and pushed the nation to the edge of default to extract concessions.
Since the largest donors are more likely to benefit from tax cuts and less supportive of higher spending, they are more likely than average Americans to support an austerity agenda. The and Cooperative Congressional Election Studies allow us to explore some more recent data, particularly related to key economic issues like Bowles-Simpson, the Ryan budget and the Bush tax cuts. For full question wording, see Appendix D.
The Ryan budget plan included dramatic cuts to government services used disproportionately by low-income people and seniors.2017 Maps of Meaning 1: Context and Background
A Center for Budget and Policy Priorities report found that 69 percent of the cuts in the Ryan budget came from programs that affect low- and middle-income earners.
Indeed, the Economic Policy Institute noted that the spending cuts outweighed revenue increases 3 to 1 as a means for reducing the deficit. The tax cuts overwhelmingly benefitted the richest 1 percent of Americans. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the top 1 percent received 38 percent of the benefits of the tax cuts, while the bottom fifth received only 1 percent of the benefits.
Progressives favored tax increases, while conservatives supported deep spending cuts.
Gender and Political Behavior - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics
However, while Democrats were willing to negotiate, most Republicans opposed a balanced split between spending cuts and tax increases, and many refused to accept any increase in revenue.
In Congress, Republicans pushed for an to percent split between tax hikes and revenue boosts, though during the GOP debates candidates refused to accept even a split.
The donor class was also more supportive of cuts to domestic spending, and far more opposed to cuts to defense spending than the general population. Moreover, larger contributors were generally more supportive of tax cuts and spending cuts and more opposed to defense spending cuts than were smaller donors.
However, as Figure 18 demonstrates, the gaps on these issues were especially dramatic within the Republican Party. Among Republicans, non-donors disapproved of both the Ryan budget and the Bush tax cuts, while donors supported them. While most Republican non-donors favored cuts to domestic spending to rein in the deficit, 15 percent preferred raising taxes, and nearly a quarter supported cuts to defense spending.
Among the largest Republican donors, fully 88 percent favored domestic spending cuts, and only 4 percent supported tax increases. The biggest donors were nearly twice as likely as Republican non-donors to support the draconian Ryan budget 34 percent to 62 percent and more than twice as likely to support a massive distribution of income to the rich by expanding the Bush tax cuts. As Figure 19 shows, Independent donors are also more favorable to austerity than Independent non-donors, with the largest donors most favorable to austerity.
Among Democratic donors, we find very little divergence between the preferences of donors and those of non-donors. The largest gap was that Democratic donors were more favorable to tax hikes. OpenSecrets finds that of the largest donors inonly 12 were people of color, and none of the top donors were people of color. Just one of the top donors was black, and only one was Latino.
Reproductive Justice While the fact that donors are overwhelmingly male has been frequently noted, there has been very little investigation into how this might affect policy.
For instance, the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal money to pay for abortions with some exceptions. A socially liberal donor may support abortion rights, but nonetheless oppose government funding for abortion on libertarian grounds.
In other cases, abortion rights come into conflict with the interests and values of employers who disagree with funding abortion or birth control. Gender and Voting Preferences After enfranchisement, women were more politically conservative than men in their ideology, party attachment, and vote choice across most democracies Lipset, Further, fewer women participated in the paid workforce, and thus they were less likely to join trade unions, the very organizations that historically connected workers to leftist parties.
Recent research bolsters this regional puzzle. Part of the explanation for this realignment lies in declining religiosity cross-nationally. Given that women tend to report higher degrees of religiosity, this secular shift influences vote choice. Further, research across Western European countries finds that women are significantly less likely to cast their vote for radical right parties than men Givens, Even after controlling for a host of social, economic, and political variables, the gender gap in support for the radical right remains.
Although more research is needed to uncover the underpinnings of this relationship, gender differences seem to be rooted in differences over the issue of immigration.
Trends in American elections reflect those found cross-nationally. Figure 1 displays the difference between the proportion of women who voted for the Democratic Party and the proportion of men doing the same in U.
Positive values signify more women voting for the Democratic Party than men. Despite the ebb and flow over time, the overall pattern clearly shows that women are more supportive of the Democratic Party over time.
For example, the ANES found that the difference was 8 percentage points in favor of men casting more votes for the Democratic Party. By contrast, in that very gap had reversed, with more women than men voting for the Democratic Party. While both white men and women have shifted their support in a conservative direction, the movement has been stronger among men. Gender differences in voting preferences in American elections, — These differences among men and women vary across racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
Among Latinos, women are more likely to hold liberal ideology and to support the Democratic Party than their male counterparts, and this gender gap is especially pronounced among younger Latinos Bejarano, Among African Americans, support for the Democratic Party is strong among men and women alike, and so gender differences in voting behavior are minimal.
Comparison among groups of women illuminates some important patterns.
Smooth points out that Democratic support among Latinas and black women account for much of the total gender gap. Some studies link gender gaps in partisan support to gender gaps in political attitudes. The salience of particular issues in any given election can shape fluctuations in the gender gap in the vote across elections. For instance, elections that highlight social welfare issues may yield larger gender gaps in vote outcomes.
In addition to salience, men and women often react differently to policy shifts.
- Gender and Political Behavior
Gender and Political Involvement Do women participate in politics at similar levels to men? Research shows that sweeping generalizations are often inaccurate. Instead, the answer instead depends on the decade, country, type of participation, and subsets of women under consideration.
Therefore, we map patterns in the gender gap across types of participation, beginning with the most pervasive forms of electoral participation and moving on to newer forms of protest participation and then to the participatory attitudes and activities that encourage engaged participation. First identified in American politics, the gender gap in favor of men was supported by comparative research. For all seven countries in their cross-national study in the s, Verba, Nie, and Kim found that men voted at higher rates than women.
Yet recent decades ushered in more equal rates of voter participation. Among whites, blacks, and Latinos alike, women have voted at higher rates in the last eight presidential elections. In the presidential election, the proportion of eligible women voting was And comparative research offers support for this trend as well.
Across several European democracies in the s, women were voting at similar rates to men Christy, In contemporary elections, we observe only small gender gaps in voter turnout. Figure 2 presents gender differences in voter participation across 16 countries.
Differences are found by subtracting the percentage of men who cast a ballot from the percentage of women. Thus, negative values signify more men casting a ballot in a given election.
For 11 of the 16 countries in the figure, men still turn out to vote at higher rates in recent elections. Yet countries vary in the size of the gap. Gender differences in voter participation across nations. Reported voter turnout in lower house elections, Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, Module 4, — More egalitarian levels of voter turnout in recent decades can be attributed to greater equality in some of the factors that encourage voting for men and women alike.
Relative to the past, many societies today witness greater gender equality in education and workforce participation. It is important to note that women have not yet achieved full equality in these areas.
Further, voting is a unique political activity because it is pervasive and, among different modes of participation, requires the fewest resources such as time, information, and civic skills. Even in recent years Burns, Scholzman, and Verba find that U.
Patterns from the United States hold up in comparative perspective: At the same time, however, substantial variation exists across democracies. The bulk of the literature on gender and political behavior focuses on the United States, and most of the cross-national research is limited to Western, industrialized nations. Recently, however, important research has considered the gendered nature of political participation in other regions of the world. Similarly, across sub-Saharan Africa, Coffe and Bolzendahl find that women are less likely than men to contact a politician or participate in collective actions Only recently has research begun to compare levels of political participation across different types of women.
In the United States, black men and women participate at similar rates. Among women, Brown finds that across forms of electoral participation, white and Asian women record higher levels than Latina or black women. Women simply have fewer resources, relative to men, and resources are crucial predictors of engagement. Another set of explanations for gender gaps rests upon socioeconomic development. Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris argue that perceptions of appropriate roles for women and men in politics are shaped by broader patterns of societal values and priorities, which in turn rest on economic development and religious traditions.
More economically developed and secular countries are associated with more egalitarian gender attitudes. Given the speed of secularization in Europe and other democracies since the s, religion may play a smaller role in structuring traditional gendered patterns among contemporary electorates. The structure of the economy may influence gender and political behavior in a variety of ways.
In addition to shaping values and attitudes, economic growth has also been considerably gendered. As more women have entered paid employment, they have often found themselves in particular sectors of the job market, often the types of occupations that are undervalued and underpaid.
In this way, the gendered nature of paid employment continues to shape the distribution of resources. Group ties can encourage political participation. However, we have noted that gender is only one identity among many. Instead, among groups of women, shared interests may hold greater potential for mobilization. Given the historic importance of the civil rights movement, collective consciousness may be especially important among black women.
Nonelectoral Participation Since the s, citizens have increasingly participated in new forms of political activity. Examples of these protest activities include signing a petition, attending a demonstration, or boycotting a product. Following the complex patterns found in electoral participation, we cannot make blanket statements about gender differences in protest participation. Instead, gender differences vary across different forms of protest participation.
And among these women, protest participation is higher among white and Asian American women Brown, Political consumerism, a set of political activities including buying or boycotting products or services for political or ethical reasons, is on the rise across most democracies.
The pioneering work of Stolle, Hooghe, and Micheletti reveals that women are more likely to engage in political consumer activities than men. Given the traditional gendered division of labor, women often spent more time caring for their families than men. In the past, women did more shopping than men, and buying or boycotting a particular product for ethical reasons is a natural extension of careful consumer activity. In fact, it is possible that some citizens do not perceive boycotting as a political act, in the traditional sense.
Further, nonelectoral activity may be more gender egalitarian because of the close connections between protest movements in general and the feminist movement since the s.
Gender and Political Engagement Engagement with the political process is one the most direct and important factors in predicting participation. For instance, working on a campaign normally requires certain prerequisites such as being interested in politics, seeking out information on candidate and party policy positions, attending meetings, and making contacts with a campaign organization.
Gender gaps in political engagement persist today and are found across democracies. And these gaps are statistically significant in most instances. At the same time, gender gaps vary across countries. For example, the gender gap in political knowledge is 20 percentage points in Poland and 11 percentage points in the United States. Further, gender gaps in political engagement are not limited to the United States or Western Europe.
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Importantly, the types of knowledge questions posed can affect whether or not a gender gap emerges. For standard factual items, such as government structures and party politics, gender gaps in political knowledge are exacerbated. In addition to actual political knowledge scores, there are gender differences in perceptions of political knowledge. In a study of social networks of political discussion partners, Mendez and Osborn found that both men and women perceive women to be less politically knowledgeable than men, without regard to actual levels of knowledge.
Similar to participation, resource-based explanations have been offered for gender gaps in engagement. However, these resource explanations find less traction in this area than when explaining electoral forms of participation. On the one hand, resources may be connected to gender differences in political knowledge.
In the context of U. The inability of individual-level factors to fully account for gender differences in the participatory attitudes and activities that lead to full political engagement has led scholars to consider the ways that social, economic, and legal change have altered gender differences in political involvement.
Socialization of traditional gender roles may discourage women from participating in politics. However, measuring the impact of gender role socialization on political activity at the individual level has proved difficult. Socialization processes may work differently across political systems.