Exit polls indicated that women were much more likely to support Democratic candidates in this year's midterm elections, and Republican congresswomen have taken notice, according to a new report by Politico. Although the party, itself, appears uncertain how it should respond, one Republican woman's fundraising solution is inviting male donors' wives to conversations about raising money, she told the news outlet.
"Businessmen sometimes are a little bit cautious about giving women these big checks," Rep. Diane Black told Politico. "If they’re married, they say they have to talk to their wife." She added that if the man's wife came along to a meeting, she was more successful at getting a raising a larger amount of money.
In speaking with the publication, she lamented that, in her experience, fundraising is a lot more difficult for women than it is for men, even when, per Politico, respective male and female candidates are equally qualified. Men and women who ask for the same amount of money may even receive vastly lower donation amounts, she said, explaining that women candidates suffer from the fact that more big donors are men.
Data shows that fundraising is often more difficult for women in general, regardless of party affiliation. In the same vein as Black's remarks, women candidates tend to have disproportionately lower access to fundraising circles that are often dominated by men, meaning that they often have to work a lot harder than their male counterparts when it comes to gaining access and raising money.
But Black isn't the only GOP woman to recently speak out about the Republican Party's issue with women, and specifically with courting women voters and recruiting women candidates — an issue that exceeds fundraising challenges. "We are at a crisis level of GOP women in Congress & I will continue speaking out," Rep. Elise Sefanik tweeted last week. "We need ALL your voices to help to make an impact. We must: Engage women Empower women Elevate women."
Stefanik wants to focus her attention on recruiting and empowering GOP women in their primaries, she told Roll Call. But her decision has received a bit of pushback from National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman-elect Tom Emmer, who told Roll Call that her plan was "a mistake."
Although Emmer clarified, per Politico, that he meant the committee shouldn't be involved in primaries, critics swooped in. And they included Stefanik, herself.
"I will continue speaking out [about] the crisis level of GOP women in Congress [and] will try to lead and change that by supporting strong GOP women candidates through my leadership PAC," Stefanik tweeted, adding, "But NEWSFLASH I wasn’t asking for permission."
Stefanik reportedly recruited more than 100 women in her capacity as the head of recruitment for the NRCC, but only one ultimately won her election. And according to Roll Call, the primaries were a significant barrier for many.
Rep. Black told Politico that it was frustrating to see the number of Democratic women in Congress growing at a much faster rate than Republican women. Something, she said, has to change.
“It’s so disappointing I could just scream,” Black told Politico. “We have got to grow the women in our party.”
It's too soon to tell whether or not things will change for Republicans in time for 2020, insofar as recruiting women and gaining women's votes. But GOP women are definitely pointing to a larger pattern when they recognize their party's gendered challenges, and it's likely that things will have to change from the inside, first.