Some of the commentators who downplay the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC say the decision affects only a small universe of mega-donors who’ve bumped up against the federal limits on campaign donations, which the Court now says are unconstitutional.
But guess what? The vast majority of those super-donors are men – who now have a chance to make the big megaphones they’re holding even bigger.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics:
In the 2012 election cycle, 644 individual donors hit the aggregate limit of $117,000. Among them, 501, or 78 percent, were men; women accounted for just 22 percent these contributors.
Women political donors already lag behind in their giving, and the Court’s decision in McCutcheon is only likely to worsen this disparity. As I pointed out for the Washington Monthly:
[W]omen contributed just 30 percent of all political donations made in the 2011-2012 campaign cycle, and among donors who gave more than $200 to candidates, men outnumbered women 2 to 1. …
Moreover, among the top 25 overall individual donors in 2012, only one was a woman giving in her own name, while the rest were spouses of such male mega-donors as Sheldon Adelson and Jeffrey Katzenberg. (In contrast, eight men—including George Soros and Michael Bloomberg—donated solo.)
If your ability to be heard in the political system increasingly depends on the size of your wallet (or, rather, handbag), as McCutcheon seems to imply, women face the prospect of even more serious under-representation, despite their importance in electoral politics.
The silver lining, however, is that women candidates are just as successful as men, if not more so, in fundraising. An analysis for the organization Political Parity found that women raise just as much money as men, both in campaign receipts and from PAC’s. For proof, look no further than Hillary Clinton – in 2013, the superPAC formed in her name raised more than $4 million, outdoing any other potential 2016 frontrunners.
Nevertheless, women have long faced an uphill battle for equal representation in the political sphere. Sadly, the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon added one more hurdle.