Transforming Politics Beyond Candidates

Posted on August 17, 2016

Before Hillary Clinton there was Shirley Chisholm, and before her there was Victoria Claflin Woodhull. Woodhull was a woman ahead of her time, running for President under the Equal Right’s Party in 1872. One hundred years later, Shirley Chisholm ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972. Where Woodhull and Chisholm lacked in support (constituency & financially) Hillary Clinton has excelled.

It’s no secret that money has the power to decide elections, but the people behind the money are changing. Recent data shows more women are donating to political campaigns than ever before.

According to CROWDPAC, 75% of all donors in 1990 were men while in 2016 they only represented 56%. The downside to these numbers is that women still only account for 32% of funds going towards federal campaigns in 2016. While the amount of money given has not changed much, the number of women participating represent a growing shift in women’s influence behind politics.

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The Center for Responsive Politics and The Washington Post reported that 35 women ranked within the top 150 donors to super PACs. Together, the largest female donors have contributed more than $62 million through May. They’re on track to surpass their record in the 2012 election of $70 million when only 31 women made the list of top donors. Large political donors have the potential to shift the priority of political candidates and having women in spaces like that is crucial.

Even more stark is the contrast between where female donors are choosing to give. So far in 2016, only 15% of female donors have given to Republicans in federal campaigns while more than 60% of Hillary Clinton’s donors are women. The difference of each party’s donor bases is outlined best in the graph below.

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Clearly the diverging interests of gender issues within the major parties is beginning to have a financial impact on federal candidates. Through continued effort for equal pay, a higher minimum wage, and continued shattering of glass ceilings, women have the chance to continue to change political donations and thereby change politics.

That is why it is so important to elect Hillary Clinton as our next President. This election is setting the tone for future candidates at federal and local levels. We can finish the work Shirley Chisholm and Victoria Claflin Woodhull started more than 144 years ago.

In the old days, power meant money and money meant men. Today money has a new face, and its transforming politics.

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