LGBT women running for office win their elections at a significantly higher rate than LGBT men, according to a new Victory Institute analysis of Victory Fund election data with more than 1,160 LGBT candidates.
Over the past decade, Victory Fund-endorsed LGBT women won their races 70.3 percent of the time, compared to 60.9 percent for Victory Fund-endorsed LGBT men. This is a statistically significant difference. The disparity is notable given studies show women and men as a whole win elections at approximately the same rate.
“LGBTQ women candidates outperform all other candidates because we are typically better prepared and more qualified,” said Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, President & CEO of Victory Fund. “The barriers to entry for LGBTQ women are significant — and we tend to wait until we are exceptionally qualified before entering a race. But when we run, we win, because most voters want leaders with experience and a deep understanding of the issues important to them. If more LGBTQ women run, we can address the severe underrepresentation we face at every level of government.”
While LGBT women win at higher rates, they unfortunately do run less frequently than LGBT men, contributing to the underrepresentation. From 2007–2016, LGBT women made up just 31 percent of Victory Fund endorsees — 364 of the 1162 candidates endorsed. Yet some of the most high-profile LGBT elected officials in the country are women elected during this period, including U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and former Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
LGBT women have been remarkably consistent in their win rates during cycles when Democrats struggled at the polls (Victory Fund is non-partisan but the vast majority of endorsed candidates are Democrats). In the 2010 midterms, when Democrats at all levels lost hundreds of seats, LGBT women candidates endorsed by Victory Fund won an astonishing 81 percent of their races, compared to just 57 percent for LGBT men. Similarly in 2014, another tough year for Democrats, LGBT women won 70 percent of their races compared to 47 percent for LGBT men.
The data indicates the largest barrier to increasing LGBT women representation in government is LGBT women choosing to run for office at lower rates. To combat this, Victory Institute is working to recruit and train LGBT women to run for office.