Ideology and Gender in U.S. House Elections

Danielle M. Thomsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Studies of gender-ideology stereotypes suggest that voters evaluate male and female candidates in different ways, yet data limitations have hindered an analysis of candidate ideology, sex, and actual election outcomes. This article draws on a new dataset of male and female primary and general election candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1980 to 2012. I find little evidence that the relationship between ideology and victory patterns differs for male and female candidates. Neither Republican nor Democratic women experience distinct electoral fates than ideologically similar men. Candidate sex and ideology do interact in other ways, however; Democratic women are more liberal than their male counterparts, and they are advantaged in primaries over Republican women as well as Democratic men. The findings have important implications for contemporary patterns of women’s representation, and they extend our understanding of gender bias and neutrality in American elections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-442
Number of pages28
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Congressional elections
  • Gender
  • Ideology
  • Partisan gap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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