chapter  4
18 Pages

A Tougher Road for Women? Assessing the Role of Gender in Congressional Elections

The continued dearth of women members in Congress suggests that a "masculine" ethos still dominates the congressional electoral environment. A host of interrelated factors-money, familiarity with the political elite, political experience, and support from the political parties-all contribute to a winning campaign. Typically, traditional candidates are members of the political or economic elite. Most emerge from lower-level elected offices, or serve as successful lawyers or businessmen in the community. They are often encouraged to run for office by other community elites, party officials, or outgoing incumbents. And these same elites who encourage the candidacies also contribute money to the campaigns and hold fundraisers. This coilgressional candidate emergence process has been in place for most of the recent history of congressional candidacies (Thomas and Lamb 1965; Hibbing 1991; Loomis 1998).