The Republican Party and Women in Politics

Last summer, as a part of our commitment to promoting a more inclusive democracy, Democracy Fund Voice partnered with Echelon Insights to better understand the views and values that drive Republicans to support or oppose female candidates. To better inform our strategies to support women considering a run for public office, we began by digging in to questions like, “Do Republicans think there is a problem with the number of female Republicans who are elected to office? Why or why not?” and “What remedies, if any, would Republicans support in order to boost the number of Republican women in office?”

Key findings from the research include:

  • Republican leaders vary greatly in their views on candidate recruitment, but most felt it is the role of party leaders to encourage people to become more active in the party.
  • Republican leaders have reservations about women-focused recruitment efforts, and prefer to focus on qualifications for the position rather than differences in identity.
  • Republican voters acknowledge women face unique challenges on the campaign trail.
  • Republican voters see family commitments and attacks from the media as deterrents and key reasons fewer women run or are elected as Republicans.

There were two phases of this research. Phase 1 began with sixteen in-depth interviews of Republican Party leaders across the country during the Summer of 2018. States included AR, AZ, CO, DC, KY, IL, MD, NC, ND, OH, PA, TX, VA, and VT. Phase 2 included both a pre-election and a post-election survey of N = 500 Republican registered voters nationwide. These interviews were conducted via a blend of live phone interviews and online interviews.

Please download a PDF of the pre-election toplines and/or post-election toplines to learn more.

Law Works Education Fund

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Law Works Education Fund, a project of Sixteen Thirty Fund
Amount: $275,000 in 2019

What is the Law Works Education Fund?

The Law Works Education Fund, a fiscally sponsored project of Sixteen Thirty Fund, engages bipartisan voices to advocate and educate the public on the importance of the rule of law, democratic norms, independent law enforcement entities, and the integrity of our legal institutions.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?

The Law Works Education Fund works with partners in the legal, judicial, national security, and law enforcement communities, as well as current and former elected and appointed officials from both sides of the aisle. Law Works helps these individuals become champions for the rule of law, our institutions and our democratic ideals.

By mobilizing these champions for the rule of law, Law Works Education Fund is helping defend our institutions within all three branches of government and the foundational system of checks and balances that holds our leaders accountable.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Law Works Education Fund?

In 2019, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to the Law Works Education Fund in the amount of $275,000. A previous grant of $650,000 was made in 2018.

Connecting Constituents to Representatives through Research and Development with Fireside 21

What is Fireside 21?

Just as President Franklin D. Roosevelt connected with individual citizens via radio with his “Fireside chat” broadcasts, Fireside 21 believes politicians in the 21st century can similarly build close relationships with constituents using the latest technologies and strategies. With the help of our grant, Fireside 21 will research and develop a constituent relationship management (CRM) software machine that seeks to improve the efficiency of congressional client offices to process email constituent communications. This is currently deployed in 150 offices of the House of Representatives.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?

Members of Congress receive record numbers of constituent engagement every day. It becomes difficult for congressional staffers to manage the flood of mail, which decreases the potential response and action congressional members can make. Fireside 21 has spent the last 10 years working on a fresh approach to how technology can be adopted by Congressional members for improved civic engagement. Efficiency among congressional offices through better technological advances can aid in providing not only better communications, but increased for political action to take place.


How is Voice supporting Demand Progress Action?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a one-year grant to Fireside 21 Demand Progress Action in the amount of up to $100,000 for 2017-2018.

Republicans for the Rule of Law

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Defending Democracy Together
Grants Total: $2,050,000 in 2019

What is Defending Democracy Together?

Defending Democracy Together is a 501(c)4 organization for conservatives committed to defending democracy and preserving the rule of law.

Why do we think this organization is important?

Democracy Fund Voice supports voices across the political spectrum who stand up for our democratic norms and institutions. We believe that checks and balances and the rule of law are essential features of our constitutional system that help protect against abuses of power. 

Defending Democracy Together’s Republicans for the Rule of Law (RRL) project encourages conservatives to uphold the rule of law and defend democratic norms, institutions and principles. By engaging with those on the right through media, op-eds, and advertising, RRL seeks to ensure that anti-democratic rhetoric and actions do not go unchallenged.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Defending Democracy Together?

In 2019, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $2,050,000 for Defending Democracy Together’s project, Republicans for the Rule of Law.

In 2018, Democracy Fund Voice approved a total of $1,600,000 in grants to general operating support for Defending Democracy Together and its Republicans for the Rule of Law project.

Bipartisan State Representative Networks

Type of Activity: Grant
Grantee: Bridge Alliance
Amount: Up to $90,000 over one year

What is Bridge Alliance?

Bridge Alliance, a bipartisan organization, is a growing movement of more than 80 civic action organizations working individually and together to transform the political terrain by putting country before self-interest. Bridge Alliance provides essential infrastructure and investment for their member organizations to connect and collaborate on projects that further shared goals and generate collective impact.

Why do we think this organization is important?

The political landscape of state legislatures tells an underlying story of lack of bipartisan cooperation, hyper-partisanship, and party polarization. Americans often feel forced to vote against candidates rather than for a candidate that truly represents them. Bridge Alliance works to find common ground between political parties to ensure a government that is of, by, and for the people.

With the help of our grant, Bridge Alliance will work to strengthen bipartisan, generational relationships among Millennial Action Project’s State Future Caucus Network members and among other networks in the field. This relationship and network building will help identify, seize upon, and amplify opportunities for bipartisan conversations in all 50 states. The impact of this national program will be measured by participant feedback, changes in process, and a tenor of civility achieved by state legislative leaders.

How is Voice supporting Bridge Alliance?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a one year grant to Bridge Alliance in the amount of up to $90,000 for 2017-2018.

Demand Progress

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Demand Progress, a project of Sixteen Thirty Fund
Amount: $250,000 in 2019 over two years

What is Demand Progress?

Demand Progress, a fiscally-sponsored project of Sixteen Thirty Fund, is a charitable organization with two million affiliated activists focused on civil liberties and government reform-related issues. Demand Progress works to implement policy changes that keep the federal government accountable and support congressional reform.

Why do we think this project is important?

Demand Progress helps Congress make sense of the complex set of impediments that hold back its ability to innovate and hamper its legislative capacity. A modernized and more functional Congress can develop stronger policy solutions to the challenges facing the American people.

Democracy Fund Voice will provide support to Demand Progress to advocate for congressional rules changes and legislation to strengthen congressional offices’ policymaking abilities and allow for technological innovation that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of congressional staff. With the help of our grant, Demand Progress will be able to track all hearings, markups, and legislation related to congressional capacity, deepen relationships with congressional leadership, lobby new measures supporting Congress’s ability to do its job, and build upon existing coalitions to support grassroots mobilization.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting Demand Progress?

In 2019, Democracy Fund Voice approved a two-year grant to Demand Progress in the amount of $250,000. In 2017, a two-year grant of $200,000 was approved. 

United to Protect Democracy

Type of Activity: General Operating Support
Grantee: United to Protect Democracy
Amount: $500,000 in 2019 over two years

What is United to Protect Democracy?

United to Protect Democracy is an advocacy organization led by a group of attorneys, communications specialists, and advocates working to hold the executive branch accountable for legal violations and abuses of power. United to Protect Democracy advances its mission through direct advocacy aimed at codifying norms, preventing the aggrandizement of power within the executive branch, and through impact litigation.

Why do we think this organization is important?

United to Protect Democracy focuses on areas that pose the most significant threats to democracy, such as preventing the politicization of independent institutions and maintaining the constitutional balance of powers among the executive branch, Congress, judiciary, and the individual states.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting United to Protect Democracy?

In 2019, Democracy Fund Voice approved a two-year grant to United to Protect Democracy in the amount of up to $500,000. A previous two-year grant of $200,000 was made in 2017 to United to Protect Democracy.

American Institutions Network

Type of Activity: Grant
Grantee:  R Street Institute
Amount: Up to $320,000 over two years

What is the American Institutions Network?

The American Institutions Network project, based at the R Street Institute, is an ideologically diverse network of civil society organizations and individuals committed to strengthening our constitutional system of checks and balances.

Why do we think this project is important?

The American Institutions Network has the potential to be a key element in civil society’s response to constitutional crises that may arise. As a bipartisan network of organizations and individuals, it will be well-situated to come together to educate Congress and the public about threats that may be posed to our system of checks and balances.

How is Voice supporting the American Institutions Network?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a two-year grant to R Street Institute of up to $320,000 for 2017-2018 to facilitate expansion and coordination of the American Institutions Network.

Advocacy for Good Governance

Type of Activity: Advocacy Grant.
Grantee: Bipartisan Policy Center Advocacy Network, Inc.
Amount: $415,000 in 2017 over two years. $150,000 in 2016.

What is the Commission on Political Reform?

The Commission on Political Reform was launched by the sister organization of the Bipartisan Policy Center Advocacy Network (the Bipartisan Policy Center) in 2013 to investigate the causes and consequences of America’s partisan political divide and to advocate for specific reforms that will improve the political process in a polarized atmosphere. The Commission proposed 24 recommendations to strengthen the electoral process, the process by which Congress legislates and manages its own affairs, and the ability of Americans to plug into the nation’s civic life through public service.  These reforms and solutions, championed by both ends of the political spectrum, include reinvigorating the central role of the congressional committee and reestablishing bipartisan interpersonal contact.

Why do we think this is a good idea?

We believe that bringing together a coalition of organizations to support bipartisan political reform can increase the likelihood and the impact of those reforms. BPCAN is uniquely positioned to develop and implement a strategy for this work because of its powerful voice in congressional bipartisan policy. They will promote an ongoing conversation about how to overcome political divides and make our government work better.

How is DFV supporting BPCAN?

In 2017, Democracy Fund Voice approved a two year grant to the Bipartisan Policy Center Advocacy Network in the amount of $415,000 to facilitate coordination with other organizations advocating for recommendations of the Commission on Political Reform and other congressional reforms. A previous grant of $150,000 was made in 2016.

Congressional Reform Project

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: The Congressional Institute
Amount: $300,000 in 2019 over two years

What is the Congressional Institute?

Founded in 1987, the Congressional Institute is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to helping Members of Congress better serve their constituents and helping their constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature. 

The Congressional Institute’s latest project, the Congressional Reform Project, provides educational information about Congress to the general public and informs Members of Congress and staff about efforts to improve the function and management of the institution.

Why do we think this project is important?

The Congressional Institute has long been a trusted partner of Congress, providing Members and staff with conferences, training, resources, and strategic planning support. As turnover rates skyrocket across the institution, the Congressional Reform Project is a critical source of institutional and procedural knowledge and has published extensive reports about congressional reform issues. The project represents an important opportunity to restore public confidence in our governance process and support Congress in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities as the first branch of government..

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting The Congressional Institute project?

In 2019, Democracy Fund Voice approved a two-year grant of $300,000 to The Congressional Institute to support their Congressional Reform Project. 

Democracy Fund Voice previously approved a two-year grant to the Congressional Institute in the amount of $339,000 in 2015 to support efforts to develop recommendations on the organization of Congress, its processes and procedures, and the behavioral patterns that currently drive congressional action.