More women vote than men — and have for years. But men play an outsize role in another aspect of elections: campaign donations. Only 30 percent of big donors to campaigns are women, according to a new review.

The Upshot analyzed data from a start-up called Crowdpac, which tracks the individuals and organizations that contribute to candidates’ campaigns. It found there are not just more male donors; they also give way more in donations.

For every dollar donated to a campaign for a sitting member of Congress, about 76 cents has come from a man, and 24 cents has come from a woman.

The Upshot determined gender by using first names. (The gender of less than 2 percent of donors couldn’t be determined.) Also, it could only include contributions of more than $200, since campaign finance law doesn’t require names for lesser amounts.

Just a handful of members of Congress receive more than half of their total donations from women. They are all women and all Democrats.

It’s not clear, exactly, why more men donate — and give more in lump sums — than women. But Debra Mesch, the director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, told the Upshot that women tend to give more for “empathetic and altruistic reasons,” so they “may not feel that their money in the political arena is going to fulfill those motivations.”

Women have made strides in Congress, particularly women from Maine, as this video below discusses. (It has a segment on Margaret Chase Smith and Susan Collins, starting at 5 minutes, 30 seconds.) But clearly there’s room to grow.
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Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on domestic and...