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Women give money to lots of things. We give to charities we believe in and make donations to causes in our communities we care about. Interestingly, though, as we clamor for political change and encourage women to run for office, we're reluctant to do one of the easiest things there is, that men already do, to have influence -- give money to a political candidate.
Over the last few election cycles, the She Should Run Project and the Center for Responsive Politics have studied the political contributions of women, and according to the latest edition of the Vote With Your Purse study, the news isn't promising. The amount of money a candidate receives is often directly related to whether their campaigns are viable, and the vast majority of individuals who make political contributions are men. That's not to say that they don't give to women candidates, but men are giving to the hopefuls they want to see in office who will represent their views and interests.
Sure, it's hard to believe in our current post-Citizens United/super PAC era of almost unlimited corporate giving that a few dollars from any one of us could make a difference in an election ourcome. But as I realized a few years ago, and as She Should Run is reminding us all today, we can make a big difference, if we choose to financially support candidates we like.
One of the earlier Vote with Your Purse reports concluded that if every woman who voted in the 2006 national elections had contributed just $27 to any presidential candidate or party, we would pour $1.3 billion dollars into the political system.
Mm-hmm. That’s billion with a ‘b.’
Women are really good at networking and writing and expressing our views. We’ve got blogs and podcasts and we're not afraid to use them. Whether we like it or not, though, we’re apparently really bad at doing the one thing that makes the most difference in electing politicians who represent our views — giving money. Now, think about how we could change election outcomes if we pooled that money.
The most recent Vote with Your Purse report breaks the numbers down further, showing:
- Only 27 percent of total contributions to individual candidates were made by women, down 6.3 percent from 2008,
- In 2010, women comprised 30 percent of the total individual contributions to Democrats and just 25 percent of the total contributions to Republicans, and
- Women made just 21 percent of the total contributions to political action committees in 2010, down almost 2 percent from 2008.
So ladies, what are we waiting for? Think you could give up a latte or two a month? Maybe forego that nail salon manicure and do it yourself? It may not sound like a lot, but a little change can go a long way.
You can read more from iVillage iVote Editor and Correspondent Joanne Bamberger at her blog, PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!