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Women reaching new levels in political donations

Kate Ackley, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON--An unprecedented rise in female donors to political campaigns, fueled largely by opposition to President Donald Trump, continues to grow in the run-up to the 2018 elections.

The number of women donating to federal candidates has surged by 182 percent when compared with this time in the 2016 cycle, according to new data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Much of the activity has been among Democratic donors, a trend that first began to appear after the Women's March on Washington the day after Trump's inauguration.

The number of women who are donating in smaller amounts, but enough to trigger the $200 threshold requiring disclosure to the Federal Election Commission, is even more dramatic: up 422 percent over 2016, the center's data showed.

"It's a huge increase," said Sarah Bryner, the center's research director. "It reflects a change in how women see political fundraising. In the past, people didn't really view political donations as something that important or even that impactful, and it still may not be. But they are ramping up their activism -- and money and contributions are included in that, especially on the left."

By this point in the 2012 cycle, about 133,000 women had donated to federal candidates, the center found by using software and research to determine the gender of most donors. So far this cycle, more than 850,000 women have donated to federal candidates and political action committees, almost double the number of female donors Roll Call first reported last year.

In total, women account for 46 percent of all donors this cycle, up from 33 percent in 2016.

Republican candidates and fundraisers say they have stepped up outreach to female donors on their side of the aisle, too.

The new group Women2Women PAC is supporting at least three major candidates, including South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, who is running for the state's at-large House seat, Danielle Varallo Stewart of the Republican Main Street Partnership said in an email.

The rise of female political donors parallels a similar surge in the number of women running for elective office and has prompted a change in campaign finance rules allowing candidates to use their political money for child care in some cases.

So far, 657 women have made a run for Congress this campaign season as a major party candidate, the Center for Responsive Politics found, compared with 355 in the 2016 election. Men are still running for Congress in higher numbers: 2,215 male candidates for 2018 compared with 1,772 in the last cycle.

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