Hillary Clinton celebrates on stage after accepting the president's nomination at the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016. (Michael Robinson Chavez / The Washington Post)

In the 2018 election campaign, many governor candidates argued that their campaigns would be good for young women and girls in their states. For example, in Idaho, where Paulette Jordan and Kristin Collum run for governor and vice-governor, Collum said, "Whether I win or not. , , I have given [young women] an example. They can, too, and they should not be stopped by anything. "

Such remarks reflect the message of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. Clinton often reminded voters that her election would mean that "a father can tell his daughter, yes, you can be anything you want to be. Even the President of the United States. "

Are such claims only campaign rhetoric? Or could they influence the willingness of parents – and especially the fathers, the group targeted by Clinton – to support female candidates?

Our research, re-published in Political Behavior, suggests that some voters – especially fathers whose first child is a girl – are actually influenced by such allegations. In the 2016 elections, men whose first child was a girl were more likely than men whose first child was a boy to vote for Clinton or support a fictitious congressional candidate who provided a similar pitch.

How did we research?

As we wrote here recently, the father of a first daughter makes politics more involved in promoting gender equality. Simply being the father of a daughter does not do it. Every daughter has a much smaller impact on men's attitudes to gender equality policy after the first one. Mothers are not affected in the same way as they have already dealt with gender issues before they become parents.

We suspected that the same fathers would be more likely to support female candidates for political office – especially if these candidates highlight the benefits of their candidacy for young women and girls.

To test this possibility, we created an original survey of 382 American fathers and 514 American mothers embedded in the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) 2016, which was conducted both before and after the 2016 elections. In the survey, we interviewed each of the respondents according to gender and birth order of each child. whether they voted for Clinton in 2016; and to gather information about parenting, ideology, education, age, religiosity, income status, marital status, economic valuations, racial attitudes, and gender behavior to control other factors that have affected support for Clinton.

If we control the above factors, we find that a first daughter increases the likelihood of support for Clinton in the 2016 presidential election by 10 percentage points, compared to the fathers of the first sons. The voting behavior of the mothers remained unchanged, regardless of the sex of the first child. In addition, a first daughter has similar implications for Democrat and Republican peoples, though the message was more appealing to the Democrats.

We followed a survey experiment in which we randomly assigned our selection of mothers and fathers to three different groups. Each group received a description of a fictional congressional candidate named "Molly Smith." The first group read a description of Smith when he was the first woman to represent Minnesota's fictional 10th Circle. The second group was told that and also that Smith "supports policies that would help increase women's participation in science, technology, engineering, and math careers."

The third group not only read the information given to the first two groups, but also a quote attributed to Smith to reflect Clinton's appeal to the Daughters' Daughters: "This campaign is about making sure it is There are no limits and no limits and to make sure that our daughters know forever that there is no obstacle for them and what they can be in the United States of America. "

The first daughters influence how dads respond to such calls

Fathers of the first daughters supported a candidate more as fathers of the first sons, especially if the candidate explicitly appeals to fathers. Fathers of first daughters in the second group, in which our candidate emphasized only expanded opportunities for women in STEM, were nine percentage points more likely than our fathers of first sons. However, fathers of first daughters in the third group, in which the candidate emphasized the importance of their campaign for daughters, were 25 percentage points more likely than the fathers of the first sons. These appeals again concerned only fathers, not mothers.

As more women compete for Congress and nationwide elections in 2018 than ever before, and often in rival districts or states, female candidates may wish to highlight the symbolic importance of their choice for the Daughter of the American Fathers, opening up unexpected electoral support.

Elizabeth Sharrow (@e_sharrow) is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Jill Greenlee (@greenlee_jill) is associate professor in the Department of Politics and in the Women, Gender and Sexuality Program at Brandeis University.

Jesse Rhodes (@JesseRhodesPS) is associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Tatishe M. Nteta (@TatisheNteta) is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and a former family researcher at the Center for Family Research at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


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