State elections: Why do women fare differently across states?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


The public was transfixed by the historic presidential election of 2008. But below the national level, there were other riveting gender stories. Only one woman sought the presidency, but more than 2,300 women sought state legislative office. A record number of women were elected to state legislatures in 2008. And for the first time in U.S. history, women won a majority of seats in a state legislative chamber: as a result of the election, women constitute a majority of the New Hampshire Senate – thirteen of twenty-four members. After the election, the woman anticipated to be the next Senate majority leader, Maggie Hassan, observed: “It feels incredibly exciting, but at the same time, not surprising.” The accomplishments of women in the Granite State did not begin in 2008; the state has long been among the nation’s leaders in women’s representation. Even in the mid-1980s, the legislature was more than 30 percent female. In contrast, as a result of the 2008 election, no women serve in the South Carolina Senate. Unlike New Hampshire, South Carolina has consistently lagged in women’s representation. The maximum number of women to ever serve in that state’s forty-six-member senate is three. State elections usually attract less attention than national elections. However, because it is much more common for women to seek state office than federal office, we can learn a great deal about women’s candidacies by studying the states. In addition, state legislative or executive office can be a springboard to candidacy for higher office.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGender and Elections
Subtitle of host publicationShaping the Future of American Politics, Second Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780511807299
ISBN (Print)9780521518208
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


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