TRENDS: Do Women Seek “Women of Color” for Public Office? Exploring Women’s Support for Electing Women of Color

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Abstract

Scholars frequently invoke the term “women of color” (WOC) in their research, and, increasingly, the media make reference to WOC in news stories. Despite this common usage, researchers have failed to investigate whether the phrase WOC is politically advantageous. That is, do all women, black, Latina, Asian, white, and mixed-race women, support WOC candidates? This omission is unfortunate considering the large body of literature about race and gender politics concerned with descriptive representation and the extent of coethnic voting and gender affinity effects. Using original public opinion data, we draw on theories of intersectionality and social identity to hypothesize about how different subgroups of women respond to the prospect of electing more WOC to Congress. Consistent with group differences in the historic processes of racialization, our findings reveal considerable complexity within the WOC umbrella. Even within this complexity, we found that black and white women are the most distinctive in their preference for electing WOC. We contribute to the gender and race fields by identifying WOC as a politicized identity, and thus complicate and expand the study of descriptive representation.

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Matos, Y., Greene, S., & Sanbonmatsu, K. (2021). TRENDS: Do Women Seek “Women of Color” for Public Office? Exploring Women’s Support for Electing Women of Color. Political Research Quarterly, 74(2), 259–273. https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912920971793

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