In the last month, women in the running for political offices across the country have taken a twirl, willingly or not, with the legacy of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision .
To wit: A third SuperPAC let us know it’s seriously Ready for Hillary
to run for president in 2016, even as Hillary Clinton herself maintained a one foot in, one foot out do-si-do. Christine Quinn’s two-stepping for NYC’s mayoralty picked up pace to counter barbs from opponents (or mostly the Grey Lady
?) and the campaign’s first television ad, an anti-Quinn harsh-fest
funded by the very type of outside money ushered in by the Citizens United
decision. And Los Angeles's would-be mayor, City Controller Wendy Greuel vowed fight against the decision
– but she's also benefited
from its largesse in her acerbic tango with Eric Garcetti to earn the City's top spot.
No one doubts that the Citizens United
decision is an unavoidable presence for candidates in federal, state, and city elections. Less clear is how it’s shaping women's political experience as candidates, voters and/or donors. Last week, the National Council on Research for Women, supported by the Piper Fund
and in conjunction with the Center for American Women in Politics
, convened several groups to begin researching how such a gender lens can be applied to the 2012 election season, the first national election cycle to take place after the CU decision.
For example, what can we learn by looking at how much SuperPac money went to support or oppose woman candidates? Do candidates with a large number of small donors (often women) behave differently on the trail (and once in office) from those with a smaller number of donors giving at significantly larger amounts (often men)? What role, if any, did big money play in voter suppression activities in 2012 – and to what effect on women voters and candidates?
Stay tuned for updates on our findings.