Hillary, Once Again Bucking the Trend

There are a number of powerful trends in politics.  One less known trend is that women give far fewer political contributions to candidates compared with men.  Just this week, Jeremy Merrill wrote about this very dynamic for The Upshot.  In his piece he references data collected from the Silicon Valley based start-up Crowdpac, a group tracking political funding.  The data shows the numbers for women’s political giving are pretty abysmal.  Merrill explains, “For every dollar flowing from big donors into the campaigns of sitting members of Congress, about 76 cents has come from a man and 24 cents from a woman.”  There are a number of theories explaining this phenomenon.  Some think it’s because women don’t have the same access to financial resources compared with men, others believe it’s because women feel more motivated to give to charities and nonprofit organizations.  While these are likely both contributing factors, when we look at Hillary a new trend emerges.

As the Director of Women Ready for Hillary, the super PAC that built early grassroots support for a 2016 Hillary run, I would often work with our data and finance teams to get a sense of who our supporters were.  One day I learned a powerful fact, women made up roughly two-thirds of our donors.  I knew the trends, women typically give far fewer dollars, especially to super PAC’s and other nontraditional political groups.   The tendency for women not to give politically is something leaders in the women and politics movement talk about frequently.  Men recognize that their power in politics comes through their wallets.  Giving to candidates grants access, influence, and helps steer the direction of the candidate.  But starting as early as 2013, Hillary’s potential candidacy was bucking this trend.

Now we see the same theme emerge with Hillary for America – more than 52% of Hillary’s big donors are women.  So what is happening?

Hillary is making investing in her campaign meaningful to women.  Whether you agree with her policy approach or not, she is speaking to the challenges that women distinctively face in our country.  The economic reality of women has long been strained by a structure that looks like we’re still in the 1960’s.  Women are nearly half the work force, but our policies and work structures do not support nor understand this changing labor force.   Hillary is speaking truth to this disparity and American women are listening.  They are opening up their pocket books and seeing – some for the first time – that power and change in their personal live may actually come through our political leaders.  

Women have not historically seen politics as an avenue for change.  Maybe this experience will open them up to a new reality that our political leaders can influence our every day lives.  Even more exciting, this is a win-win.  Women are owning their power in this process, and at the same time they are bestowing their trust in Hillary. They are seeing that their financial investment is too important to pass up.  

Jessica GroundsComment