Rethinking the Strategic Woman Candidate
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The historic advances made by women in the 2018 election are oftentimes viewed as part of an inevitable consequence of broader secular trends such as women’s progress in pre-political careers, or an anomaly such as the “Year of the Woman.” Both accounts obscure women candidates’ agency and strategic decision-making. In this chapter, I test the salience of issues that advantage women among the public and enable women candidates to broaden their message to address traditionally male-advantaged issues, such as the economy and taxes. Overall, congressional candidates in 2018 emphasized issues that they are stereotyped as more competent by voters. However, the diversity of campaign messages developed by incumbent and non-incumbent women, and Democratic and Republican women, suggests that women candidates are strategically shaping their campaigns to maximize their perceived strengths and minimize their perceived weaknesses in their appeals to voters.
KeywordsGender Campaign messaging Typology Female-advantaged issues
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