Women in Politics

February 20, 1956

Report Outline
Women as Voters in Presidential Elections
Women as Party Officers and Campaigners
Women in Elective and Appointive Office
Impact of Women's Participation in Politics

Women as Voters in Presidential Elections

The election campaign this year will be the tenth presidential contest held since the 19th Amendment extended the franchise to women on a nation-wide basis in 1920. After 36 years of political equality under the law, women today hold only a handful of major public offices and have not cut appreciably into male dominance at the centers of political power.

Women nevertheless constitute a majority of the population of voting age, and in many communities they outnumber men among active campaign workers. A woman—Mrs. Katherine G. Howard—served four years ago on the Eisenhower-Nixon “strategy and policy” campaign committee with the function of marshaling the women's vote. As the 1956 contest approaches, both Democratic and Republican forces are intensively courting the support of women, who control the largest pool of unused votes in the country.

Extent of Women's Support for 1952 Candidates

According to latest Census Bureau estimates, women comprise 51.2 per cent of citizens of voting age. The potential female voters outnumber the potential male voters in 32 of the 48 states. Obviously, any candidate who can claim the overwhelming support of women will be in a favorable position on election day. A study based on surveys made by Elmo Roper in 1952 suggests that women in fact played “a decisive role in the election of Dwight Eisenhower,” and that they did so by “breaking from three traditions which had characterized their behavior at the polls since 1920.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Feb. 20, 1956  Women in Politics
Jan. 24, 1951  Womanpower in Mobilization
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Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights: Women