Gender and Campaign Strategy in 2016: A Study of U.S. Senate Races' Responses to the Gendered Dynamic of the Presidential Race

Document Type

Honors Project On-Campus Access Only


This project seeks to understand the influence that the gendered dynamic of the 2016 presidential race, with the first ever woman nominee of a major party running against a hypermasculine candidate, had on the strategies of 2016 US Senate races. I particularly look at the responses in campaign communications by select US Senate races to three particular gendered events within the 2016 presidential race. I also conducted interviews with senior campaign staffers of the Alaska Senate race to understand how they perceived the gendered dynamic of the presidential race affecting their campaign’s strategy. By analyzing campaign communications and conducting interviews, this project aims to uncover how gender was treated in the 2016 election cycle and how this compares to the findings of past scholarship. My findings suggest that women candidates, regardless of political party, were more likely to specifically denounce Donald Trump’s treatment of women in the select gendered events within the presidential race, suggesting that they may have felt more compelled to do so than men candidates. I also find that Democratic women used Donald Trump’s perceived misogyny to create explicitly gendered messages to appeal to voters.

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