Do ‘Clean Elections’ increase the number of female legislators?

The Center for Competitive Politics released today an issue analysis refuting the myth that taxpayer-financed political campaigns increase gender diversity in state legislatures.

"The claim that taxpayer-financed campaigns make a difference in the number of women elected to office is false," said Sean Parnell, president of the Center for Competitive Politics.  "Welfare for politicians continues to show itself to be a poor use of taxpayer dollars with few discernable positive outcomes."

The study examines Arizona and Maine, the only two states with full government-financing programs for state legislative races.  Both states first implemented taxpayer-financed campaigns in the 2000 election cycle.

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) review of the Maine and Arizona legislatures shows little change in the gender makeup of members of the legislature between 1991 and 2008.   In fact, since the inception of taxpayer-financed political campaigns, the number of women legislators in Arizona and Maine has decreased slightly. 

On average, women comprised 35 percent of the Arizona legislature between 1991 and 2000.  Since taxpayer-financed campaigns began the average percentage of women legislators in Arizona dipped slightly to 34 percent.

In Maine, women on average made up 29 percent of the legislature in the years preceding taxpayer-financed campaigns.  That average has decreased to 28 percent since taxpayers dollars began being used in political campaigns in The Pine Tree State.

"There is simply no evidence that taxpayer-funded political campaigns have had any impact on the number of women in the legislatures of either Arizona or Maine," Parnell concluded.

The complete study can be accessed by clicking: http://www.campaignfreedom.org/docLib/20080826_Issue_Analysis_3.pdf

CCP previously released an Issue Analysis concluding that "clean elections" programs in Maine and Arizona had no impact on the number of lobbyist registrations in the state. That study is available by clicking: http://www.campaignfreedom.org/docLib/20080327_Issue_Analysis_1.pdf

CCP also previously released an Issue Analysis examining the impact that "clean elections" programs in Maine and Arizona had on the occupational diversity of members of the states’ legislatures: http://www.campaignfreedom.org/docLib/20080506_Leg.Occ..pdf