UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Should female candidates run "as women?" : effects of gendered appeals in the US Senate election O'Brien, Maura Lee


This thesis looks at strategic campaign strategies for female-candidates running for elective office. It evaluates and investigates to see if female-candidates can gain an electoral advantage when they run their campaign “as women” and include a higher percentage of female-specific rhetoric. The first section of this thesis explores existing knowledge to gain a baseline understanding on the current findings regarding effective campaign strategy and voter’s perceptions of female-candidates. The thesis argues that while the current literature has made some influential findings on what issues are the most successful to mention during campaigns, they fail to explore how a candidate’s gender might play a role. In this thesis I evaluated the potential effect of female-specific campaign strategies by examining, in detail, the campaign messaging from the 22 female-candidates that ran for the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections. I categorized three types of campaign statements, Female-Interest, Female-Advantage, and Non-Gendered Key-Issue statements. The study then ran six different linear regression models to see the effect of female-specific statements on a female-candidate’s percent of the two-party vote. In the end, there is some evidence for advantages of campaigning on female-specific issues and running “as a woman,” however, it is mixed and fairly weak. While this study finds that female-specific campaigning can, in some cases, significantly increase a female candidate’s percent of the two-party vote, for some female candidates they may do better to adopt a nongender-specific approach.

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