December 08, 2020
From the nation's leading source on all things women and politics.
The Money Hurdle in the Race for Governor 
CAWP is proud to announce the first in our new CAWP Women, Money, and Politics series of reports: The Money Hurdle in the Race for Governor. This report combines our unmatched data on women candidates with the National Institute on Money in Politics' comprehensive database of campaign contributions from the 50 states. The report provides a detailed comparison of money raised from individuals by women and men candidates in both primary and general elections from 2000 to 2018, as well as an analysis of how many women contribute to women's campaigns and how much women contribute. In reporting on women as recipients of campaign funds and as donors in that funding, the report offers insight into both the mechanics of candidate emergence and campaign donations as a distinct form of political participation for women.

"Just nine women currently serve in gubernatorial offices in the United States. Only 44 women have ever served as governor in American history, and twenty states have yet to elect a woman as governor," said CAWP senior scholar and report co-author Kira Sanbonmatsu. "We often ask why women run for office. This report gets at the question of why they win, and the plain fact is that you can't have women in office without money."

Read the full report here.
Record Number of Women to Serve in State Legislatures in 2021 
A record of at least 2,236 women will serve in state legislatures in 2021, according to data compiled by CAWP. This surpasses the previous record, and current number, of 2,162 women in state legislative offices. For the first time in history, women will hold more than 30% of seats in state legislatures. There are still 76 women in 2020 election contests that remain too close to call, so these numbers are likely to change.

Nevada will continue to be the only state where women will make up more than 50% of its state legislators. Nevada became the first state to reach this milestone following the 2018 elections, when 52.4% of its legislators were women. That proportion increased to 54% during 2020, and in 2021, Nevada's legislature will be 60.3% women, becoming the first state in history to cross the sixty-percent threshold. Nevada will also be the first state where both legislative chambers are majority women.

Women will be the majority in at least six state legislative chambers: Colorado House, Nevada House, Nevada Senate, New Mexico House, Oregon House, and Rhode Island Senate. Prior to this, women have made up 50% or more of seats in a state legislative body just three times in history: the New Hampshire Senate from 2009-2010, the Nevada House from 2019 to the present, and the Colorado House in 2019.

The data team at CAWP has prepared an analysis of women's representation in state legislatures in the coming year, which includes data visualizations of 2021 numbers in comparison with current and recent numbers, data broken down by party and legislative chambers, and interactive tools that track women's representation in state legislatures state-by-state. See the analysis, and find out how your state fared in the 2020 elections, at CAWP's Election Analysis page.
2020 New Jersey County Report Card
Mercer and Union counties lead New Jersey in an overall ranking of women's political representation based on an average of women's representation on local councils, mayoralties, and commissionerships (formerly freeholders). Mercer also leads in women's representation on local councils, while Union leads in women holding mayoralties. Somerset holds the top spot for the share of county commission seats held by women. Cumberland County is at the bottom spot in CAWP's 2020 report card; the county has zero women mayors and just 15% of local council seats there are held by women.

Read the full 2020 County Report Card here and stay tuned for information about our upcoming 2021 Ready to Run® virtual campaign training sessions to get more involved with New Jersey politics.

CAWP's associate director, Jean Sinzdak, published an op-ed in the Newark Star-Ledger over the weekend about the County Report Card and women in New Jersey politics, In national politics, women are rising. In New Jersey, they're treading water, in which she argues, "We must disrupt the political status quo that guards access to power in New Jersey and controls the destiny of the politics in our state. It is not an accident that women's representation in the state is stagnant. It is not the result of some mysterious absence of women of quality, competence, and ambition. It is the systemic exclusion of women from the political decision-making process." Read the full piece on
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Video: Ascension 2020: Black Women in Media, Politics, and Power
Last week, we were joined by ABC News' Linsey Davis for our 2020 Senator Winona Lipman Chair lecture, Ascension 2020: Black Women in Media, Politics, and Power. In the session, she discussed how she approached moderating a debate during the Democratic presidential primary: "I did it knowing that it might just allow a young girl who's at home sitting and watching in her living room to realize that her trajectory was not limited by her skin color. It was also an important message to America at large, once again, that representation matters, and I started off my line of questioning during that September 2019 debate asking the questions that were on the minds of young Black voters...I felt, if not me, then who? If I'm not going to ask these questions, who's going to?" Watch the full video of the lecture here.
Welcoming Salma Elakbawy 
CAWP is pleased to announce the newest member of our staff, Salma Elakbawy, who joins our data team as data services assistant. Salma received her M.A. in Political Science: U.N. and Global Policy Studies from Rutgers University-New Brunswick with a concentration in women's rights, environmentalism, and public health. Her graduate research explored the different ways global policies disproportionately impact women and the importance of ecofeminism. Prior to CAWP, Salma was a program coordinator at Rutgers Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in STEM Research. While an undergraduateat Rutgers, Salma worked at the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers, the Institute for Research on Women, the Center for Women's Global Leadership, and interned at the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Do Women Seek "Women of Color" for Public Office? 
CAWP Senior Scholar Kira Sanbonmatsu has co-authored new research in Political Research Quarterly: "Do Women Seek 'Women of Color' for Public Office? Exploring Women's Support for Electing Women of Color." In the article, Sanbonmatsu and her co-authors, Yalidy Matos and Stacey Greene, explore whether the phrase "women of color" is politically advantageous. "Using original public opinion data, we draw on theories of intersectionality and social identity to hypothesize about how different subgroups of women respond to the prospect of electing more WOC to Congress. Consistent with group differences in the historic processes of racialization, our findings reveal considerable complexity within the WOC umbrella. Even within this complexity, we found that black and white women are the most distinctive in their preference for electing WOC." Read the full piece here.
News from the Transition: Melinda Gates Calls for a National Caregiving Czar
In a new op-ed in The Washington Post, Melinda Gates argues for the creation of a national czar for caregiving by the Biden administration to address the broken American caregiving system. "The president-elect has taken care of aging parents and been a single father to two young boys. He knows from his own experience that today's caregiving crisis is not a symptom of the pandemic but a preexisting condition," Gates writes. "If there ever was a president who understands why this issue must be a priority, it's him. And if there was ever a moment caregivers needed a full-time champion in the administration, it's right now." Read the full piece here.

In other Biden transition news, the incoming administration has already demonstrated an early commitment to appointing more women with diverse backgrounds, including a communications team comprised entirely of women, many of whom are mothers to young children. Other recent picks include Neera Tanden as director of Office of Management and Budget, Cecilia Rouse as the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Dr. Rochelle Walensky as director of the Centers for Disease Control, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith as chair of the COVID-19 Equity Task Force. Follow the Biden-Harris transition here and learn more about the history of women serving in the executive branch from our Women Appointed to Presidential Cabinets fact sheet.
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Center for American Women and Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics
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