The gender gap may be starting to close ... when it comes to political donations, at least.
The 2012 election cycle has focused largely on women voters and reproductive rights, and now female "mega-donors" are starting to put their money into a women-centric political action committee, reported Mother Jones.
Women Vote! is a super-PAC affiliated with progressive women's organization EMILY'S List, and is focused on funding candidates who support women's reproductive rights. The super-PAC's dollars have gone to the campaigns of nine female congressional candidates (all Democrats) and have also funded ads that oppose a few Rebublican candidates, reported OpenSecrets.org, a blog focused on the role of money in politics.
Major political donors have traditionally been male, and most still are. According to OpenSecrets.org, as of May 2012, 70 percent of all donations (both small and big) for the 2012 election cycle had been made by men. (Though interestingly, 46 percent of donations to the Obama campaign came from women during that same time period.) But in recent weeks, Women's Vote! has raised nearly $2 million, a significant increase from pervious months thanks to sizable contributions from big-spending women. In August, five individual female donors each made six-figure contributions to the super-PAC, according to Mother Jones. These donors include Florida-based philanthropist Barbara Stiefel ($250,000), co-owner of the Chicago Cubs Laura Ricketts ($200,000) and NYC-based philanthropist Shelley Rubin ($150,000), reported OpenSecrets.org.
EMILY's List told Mother Jones that the upswing in major female donations is due to the increased role that issues important to women have played in this election -- specifically the Republican party's position on abortion. "Finding out that Republicans want to roll back the clock that far for women has been a shock -- and folks are absolutely waking up to the need to have more Democratic women in government at every level," EMILY's List president Stephanie Schriock said.
The increase in funds for Women's Vote! comes just weeks after the launch of another powerful, female-centric super-PAC. LPAC, a pro-lesbian political action committee funded by high-profile women like Billie Jean King and actress Jane Lynch, was founded in July. Laura Ricketts, who donated to Women Vote! also supports LPAC.
"Women's voices get lost a lot and get overshadowed in almost all settings," Sarah Schmidt, LPAC's spokeswoman told The Huffington Post in July. "So I think there's a real opportunity here to engage women who haven't been engaged before." And according to the numbers, it seems that more women are successfully being engaged -- or their wallets are, at least.
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