by Doug Weber
While historically men have dominated campaign finance contributions, women have been an important source of money for some candidates — female Democrats in particular.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton got 52 percent of her individual contributions from women while Trump received only 29 percent of his individual donations from women.
Since 2000, Democratic women running in House races have received the highest percentage of campaign contributions from women — 39.7 percent per cycle on average — while Republican men have drawn the lowest percentage from women (23.7 percent).
So far in the 2018 election cycle, the disparity has only increased.
The current cycle follows a predictable pattern with important twists: There is an increase in both the number of Democratic women running for House seats and financial support from female donors to Democratic candidates overall. Republican House candidates meanwhile have seen a slight decline in the percentage of contributions from women.
Also this cycle, nine Senate candidates — all of whom are either Democrats or caucus with Democrats — have received the majority of their individual contributions from women. In the 2008 cycle, only one Senate candidate — Democrat Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer of Minnesota — received a majority of their contributions from women.
A record number of Democratic women are running for House seats along with 538 Democratic men. Among Democratic candidates, about 33 percent are women.
In contrast, fewer Republican women are running and raising money in House races than usual this cycle.
While women tend to favor female candidates — particularly Democratic women — there is a noticeable split based on occupation. Women who identify as homemakers favor Republicans and conservative outside groups while other female donors lean left. This split has become more pronounced in the current cycle, driven by a shift from non-homemakers to the left.
Campaign contributions as previously noted remain male dominated, but the percentage of overall contributions from female homemakers has fluctuated dramatically in time. The percentage from other women has remained more constant.
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 effectively reduced campaign contribution limits by eliminating soft money. In the cycle it first took effect, the percentage from female homemakers jumped from 2 percent to 7 percent.
More recently, the percentage from female homemakers has slowly declined in the wake of the Citizens United decision (2010) and the McCutcheon decision (2014.) Both court rulings effectively raised the limits for campaign contributions.
What we are seeing in the 2018 cycle thus far is a surge in both Democratic women running for office and female financial support for Democratic candidates. Female donors (excluding homemakers) are contributing to House Democrats at above-average rates and favoring Democrats regardless of gender.
For whatever reason, the historical tendency of women to contribute to Democrats and run as Democrats has intensified this cycle. While it is still early in the cycle, it is possible that the 2018 election will turn out to be a Year of the Democratic Women.