3 Things to Remember: A Global Health Crisis + Gender in Politics

Amanda Hunter | Mar 18, 2020


COVID-19 has dramatically impacted Americans across the country over the last week, with serious public health and economic consequences; it’s safe to say that this global health crisis will have a lasting effect on many facets of American life, including politics. With a record-tying number of women governors and a number of women mayors currently serving in the most populate cities, plus a woman Speaker of the House shepherding through a large-scale relief package, women officeholders are on the forefront. Here are three things to keep in mind when evaluating the coverage of women leaders and this issue:

Showing she can handle a crisis is essential.

To say COVID-19 is a crisis is an understatement: it will have far-reaching national and global effects far into the future, and has already substantially impacted the daily lives of many Americans. According to BLFF research, it is especially important to voters that women show they can handle a crisis. It can be helpful to underscore how their qualifications makes them prepared:

Showcasing economic expertise is especially important for women.

The economic consequences of COVID-19 are already being felt across industries, and people are looking to their elected officials for help. For women, the economy has traditionally been perceived as a weakness. However, research shows there is a critical link between economic credentials and perceptions of being qualified for hypothetical women candidates of both parties, so it’s important for women to emphasize their economic work.

When it comes to women candidates, showing they are “in touch” is key.

Having a deep understanding of the challenges Americans face is the single biggest indicator of electability to voters, and voters often give women candidates an advantage on being in touch with their lives.  With Americans feeling scared and stressed about COVID-19, we’re seeing women officeholders show their compassion and acknowledge the challenges so many are facing.

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