Report: Turning Point: The Changing Landscape for Women Governors
The Barbara Lee Family Foundation has conducted research every election cycle since 1999 to study women candidates for Governor and how the voters respond to these campaigns.
Key findings from the report:
After partisanship, likeability is the candidate trait that most strongly predicts the vote, especially for races with women candidates.
Being perceived as having and setting the right priorities forecasts likeability.This is true for women candidates of either party who ran against male opponents.
Problem solving is a critical trait for candidates in establishing likeability and winning the vote.
Strength is an important trait for women of both parties and also predicts likeability. “Strength” is a separate quality from “toughness,” which is no longer a priority for voters.
Being perceived as an agent of change enhances a candidate’s likeability, though in 2010 the criteria voters used in evaluating women candidates as “change agents” shifted dramatically.
Women candidates today are on equal footing with men in their ability to show mastery of the economy. Democrats overall were at a disadvantage on economic issues. 1
Women candidates have more strategic advantages related to their gender than in years past.
Voters judge women candidates more harshly — and penalize them accordingly — when they believe they are engaged in negative campaigning.
Young women are conflicted about women candidates. Independent women are more likely than Independent men to vote for a woman.
Looking ahead, woman vs. woman races pose new challenges and questions for women candidates.
In 2010, Lake Research Partners (LRP), a Democratic research and consulting firm, and AmericanViewpoint, Inc., a Republican firm, conducted a number of pre- and post-election surveys in ten states with gubernatorial contests. LRP and American Viewpoint conducted pre-election surveys among registered likely voters in the eight states with women gubernatorial candidates (Arizona, California, Florida, Maine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wyoming) and two states with only men gubernatorial candidates (Vermont, Wisconsin) as a control group. Post-election surveys were also conducted among general election voters in Arizona, California, Florida, Maine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina,Wisconsin,Wyoming, and Vermont.
Hughes & Company led a bipartisan team of researchers who tracked the eight gubernatorial contests in which ten women were nominees of the major political parties, monitoring print and internet coverage, including news websites, campaign websites and blogs. In addition, the team collected copies of campaign commercials and radio and TV broadcast debates. Following the November elections, these researchers interviewed 67 individuals who participated in or observed those campaigns including candidates, campaign managers, finance directors, press secretaries, consultants, party officers, and reporters who covered the race.