Political Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 435–466 | Cite as

Is Running Enough? Reconsidering the Conventional Wisdom about Women Candidates

  • Peter BucchianeriEmail author
Original Paper


The conventional wisdom in the literature on women candidates holds that “when women run, they win as often as men.” This has led to a strong focus in the literature on the barriers to entry for women candidates and significant evidence that these barriers hinder representation. Yet, a growing body of research suggests that some disadvantages persist for Republican women even after they choose to run for office. In this paper, I investigate the aggregate consequences of these disadvantages for general election outcomes. Using a regression discontinuity design, I show that Republican women who win close House primaries lose at higher rates in the general election than Republican men. This nomination effect holds throughout the 1990s despite a surge in Republican voting starting in 1994. I find no such effect for Democratic women and provide evidence that a gap in elite support explains part of the cross-party difference.


Elections Gender Women candidates Regression discontinuity design 



I am grateful to Chris Berry, Ryan Enos, Adam Glynn, Andrew Hall, Horacio Larreguy, Audrey Latura, Shauna Shames, and Jim Snyder for helpful suggestions and advice. I also benefited significantly from feedback by participants at Harvard’s Graduate Political Economy Workshop and Inequality and Social Policy Seminar.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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