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Women up donations to political candidates

By Brooks Jackson/CNN

WASHINGTON (June 9) -- In politics, more women have been running for office and more women have been winning office, but what about the mother's milk of politics: money -- Are more women giving to campaigns?

The answer is yes, according to two new studies. Women gave only 17 percent of all reported donations to House and Senate candidates in 1978, according to a university study funded by the Joyce Foundation. But by 1996 that rose to 23 percent, a significant increase.

Another question the study tried to answer was why women give to political campaigns. The study polled more than 1,100 donors, male and female.

"Women give because of the causes. Issues are very important to them and larger, more liberal causes whereas men give primarily for access. They want to be able to open the door to later lobbying efforts and much of it is concerned with business in the case of men," said Paul Herrnson of University of Maryland.

Women donors were more likely than men to favor environmental regulations, national health care, affirmative action, gay teachers in schools, and abortion rights. They were less likely than male donors to favor free trade despite job cuts.

One out of four women said they had sent their donations to be "bundled" by organized groups -- mainly EMILY's List, which supports female Democrats.

Of the candidates given to by women, Democrats were the main beneficiaries.

"The primary beneficiaries of all this are Democratic women and that second place would go to Republican women," said Larry Makinson of the Center For Responsive Politics, which conducted a separate study.

Democratic women candidates got 43 percent of their money from women donors in the last election, according to the study by the Center for Responsive Politics. Republican women candidates got 29 percent from women donors, followed by Democratic men with 26 percent, and Republican men at 24 percent.

Among House members, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois got 57 percent of her money from women. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin got 52 percent, Rep. Darlene Hooley of Oregon got half, and Rep. Lois Capps of California got just under 50 percent. All four women are Democrats.

The House member who got the least amount of contributions from women was Republican Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma got 96 percent of his money from men and only 4 percent from women.

The results are similar among senators. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington got 48 percent from women, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California got 46 percent and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, 43 percent. A male Democratic senator, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, received 41 percent from women donors.

Of the senators, Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi got only 11 percent from women with the remaining 89 percent of his money coming from male donors.

A sidelight: Virginia Beach, Virginia had the only ZIP code in the U.S. where 100 percent of reported donations came from men and none from women.

One subject remains for further study: How many donations reported to be coming from women are really coming from their husbands trying to get around the $1,000 limit on donations to federal candidates? About $30 million in the last election came from women listing their occupation as "homemaker."


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Politics and money



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Friday, June 11, 1999

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