Data & Resources Money and Elections Theories women in politics

Are Women Presidential Candidates Disadvantaged In Raising Money?

This is not an easy subject for researchers to determine, but we attempt to find out.

Since the Democratic presidential primary season is winding down to two male candidates (Tulsi Gabbard is still in the race at this writing), the subject that women candidates are discriminated against in elections has been raised again. This is not an easy subject for researchers to determine since the effects of such discrimination is impossible to divine at the voting booth. There is also the possibility that people who do have prejudices don’t even know they have them.

Most research focuses on stereotypes that both some voters have about women. The consensus of research indicates that stereotypes are usually activated in low visibility races. An example often occurs in school board elections, where women candidates often are elected. After all, who is better with the well being of our kids than a loving woman?

But this post is more about money than elect-ability, specifically in a Democratic presidential primary. Raising campaign money is often perceived by pundits as a demonstration of a candidate’s elect-ability. For both the media and campaign pundits, fundraising prowess often becomes a substitute for who’s winning and losing.

The FEC has campaign fundraising and spending for each candidate through January 31, 2020. For my purposes here, I’ve only included candidates who raised a million dollars or more and I have excluded both Bloomberg and Steyer, who mainly used their own funds.

That leaves us with 20 Democratic candidates: Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Biden, Harris, Yang, Klobushar,Delaney, Gillibrand, Gabbard, Williamson, Bennet, Hickenlooper, Patrick, Swalwell, Moulton, Ryan, and de Blasio.

Between all of them they raised a total of $594,823,936. During this same period, Donald Trump had raised $150,168,134.

The clear fundraiser of this group was Bernie Sanders with a remarkable $134,268,972. He is followed by Elizabeth Warren at $93,028,032. Joe Bidden came in at fourth with $69,947,288.

But our interest here is whether men have a fundraising advantage over women candidates. On the surface at least, Democratic men did raise more money than the Democratic woman.

The men raised a total of $388,628,507 compared to the Women’s $206,195,429, a $18,243,308 advantage. However, there were twenty male candidates versus six women. On average, the men raised $19,431,425 and the women $34,365,904. In other words, on average the woman out raised the men by almost 15 million dollars. But that still doesn’t tell us whether the women or men had a significant fundraising advantage.

Using Analysis of the Variance (ANOVA) we can test the null hypothesis that there is no statistical difference between men and women fundraising.

ANOVA is a statistical technique that measures whether differences between two groups (women vs. men candidates) and success in fundraising. Significance levels above .05 level, shows there is no difference and consequently, that there is no statistical differences. For those interested in statistics, I have included the statistical results for the ANOVA analysis in Table 1 below.

  Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Significant
Between Groups 1.833E14 1 1.833E14 .125 .728
Within Groups 2.646E16 18 1.470E15    
Total 2.664E16 19      

Table 1

That there is no difference in fundraising between men and women does not mean that gender doesn’t influence voters’ election choice. But it should put to rest that women can’t compete financially in a presidential primary.

Under the significance column, the level is .728 and since it is well above the .05 level, we can conclude the null hypothesis is confirmed and the differences are likely random.

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