New report through US 2050 details the effect of race and gender on campaign fundraising

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The Center for Responsive Politics is pleased to announce the publication of “Race, Gender, and Money in Politics: Campaign Finance and Federal Candidates in the 2018 Midterms.” Written by Sarah Bryner, the Center’s research director, and Grace Haley, the Center’s gender and race researcher, this paper looks at the future of money in politics and the changing demographic shifts in Congress and America.

This publication was made possible by the US 2050 project, supported by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Ford Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.

The US 2050 initiative examines and analyzes the multiple demographic, socioeconomic and fiscal trends that will shape the nation in the decades to come. Through engaging scholars in the fields of demographics, poverty, labor economics, macroeconomics, political science and sociology, the US 2050 initiative looks at how America’s changing demographics will shape the future political, social and fiscal landscape.

The initiative’s main question — how do the changing demographics of America, including aging, race, ethnicity, and other factors, affect the future fiscal and economic health of the nation? — is answered through the insights from 31 experts across multiple disciplines to explore the many evolving factors. The CRP authors’ research corresponds with the ‘politics’ portion of this multidisciplinary initiative.

“We are proud to offer exclusive data created through this study and recognize its value in the current political climate,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “We hope that this research inspires a deeper understanding of how gender, race and money intersect and that it will illuminate the important work being undertaken by others.”

The gender, race and money in politics data, along with an accompanying report, will be made available next week on the new gender and race page coming to our site.

The findings in our paper suggest that as the U.S. population grows increasingly diverse, members of Congress, and particularly Republican members, continue to lag behind in representation of women and people of color. While the 2018 midterm elections ushered in a historically large group of new female and people of color in Congress, barriers still remain for some candidates of color trying to run, raise money, and win.

While Democrats ran more diverse candidates than Republicans in terms of women and people of color in the 2018 midterms, the Democratic candidate pool was still less diverse than the electorate, particularly in competitive races. Additionally, black women continued to face disadvantages in fundraising, particularly from large individual donors.

Collecting individual candidate data from the 2018 midterms, the authors looked at the fundraising of political candidates by race, gender, and political affiliation, pairing an email survey in which candidates self-identify race and gender with data on electoral outcomes.

While women raised more money than men this cycle, much of this increase in female fundraising in 2018 was driven by female candidates raising a disproportionate amount of money from female donors. The authors suggest that although the 116th Congress is much more diverse than those prior, there remain significant barriers to disadvantaged groups in running for office.

Watch a live stream of US 2050 and stay tuned for Sarah Bryner’s panel of authors discussing the key demographic and socioeconomic trends shaping the political landscape here on Friday, March 22 at 12:00.

Read the full “Race, Gender, and Money in Politics” paper here.

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