Essay Questions Chapter Three: Suffrage Accomplished – Women as Political Participants 1. After women were legally permitted to vote, overall voter turnout rates declined in the United States. Some argue this was due to women's inclusion in the eligible voter pool even though they were substantially less likely to vote than men. Others attributed the overall decline to a partisan dealignment that resulted in a less active role for political parties in encouraging voter turnout. Make an argument in favor of one explanation using the information provided in Chapter Three. 2. In what ways do political parties facilitate political participation? Evaluate the claim that political parties are biased against women's participation as voters and candidates. Use the research evidence presented in Chapter Three in your evaluation. 3. Evaluate the short- and long-term implications of the resource gap between men and women. Men are more likely to contribute money and to contribute larger sums of money. In what ways does this advantage them in the current political system? How might the most recent campaign finance reform, the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, influence the resource gap? Will the gap grow bigger as a result of the changes in the law or will BCRA narrow the gap between male and female candidates? In what ways has the Internet expanded the likelihood that women will contribute to candidates? Is this likely to expand women’s political power? Explain why or why not using the research presented in Chapter Three. 4. Compare and contrast the three explanations for the patterns of participation rates for women and men. In your judgment, why do women vote at higher rates than men, but know less about politics and pay less attention to politics than men? 5. In 2004, the gender gap was smaller than it has been in over a decade. The gender gap in 2008 was also 7 points—identical to 2004. However, Barack Obama drew a larger share of women voters than John Kerry did in 2004 (56% in 2008 compared to 51% in 2004) while John McCain attracted votes from fewer women in 2008 (43%) compared to George W. Bush in 2004 (48%). What do these two elections teach us about the relative nature of the gender gap? Drawing on evidence from the text and from the class, evaluate the long-term prospects of the gender gap in American politics. In your judgment, is the gender gap a meaningful concept in explaining American elections? Why or why not? Explain. 6. Does a political climate dominated by war, terrorism, and military concerns diminish women’s involvement in politics? Using the research on women’s participation patterns relative to men’s, and the forces that motivate them to engage in political activity, evaluate the 2004 and 2008 contests. What about a poor economy? Did the recession change the way gender influenced political participation? Explain using the research and data presented in Chapter Three. 7. Voters are attracted to support candidates for a variety of reasons, but new research presented in Chapter Three suggests that voters may make snap decisions about a candidate’s competence based on their appearance. In what respect is a voter’s decision based on appearance “gendered”? Based on these studies, what kind of electoral dilemmas might female candidates face in the future? How will these dilemmas vary depending on the level of office and the involvement of the media? Explain.