Five Things Voters Want In A Chief Executive

As governors and mayors take the lead in responding to COVID-19, we’re seeing the importance of having women in chief executive roles. There are only nine current women governors, and eight women running in 2020. BLFF’s research Ready, Willing, and Electable shows what voters look for in executive office candidates.

1. Trustworthy

While it’s been proven time and time again that women are as electable as their male counterparts, women are still held to higher standards. Women are put on an ethical pedestal, and voters punish candidates for even perceived ethical infractions. The cost is especially high for women, who are already expected to be more honest; voters don’t forgive women who have acted unethically and abused their power. It’s critical that women appear honest and forthright.

2. Action-oriented

The top traits voters identify as important for electability are “can handle a crisis” and “gets results.” Voters want a candidate to step up and serve their community. This is especially important in 2020, as the coronavirus has had serious economic and health impacts on communities. Women need to prove they will take action to make a difference for constituents.

3. Bridge builder

Traditionally, voters give women an edge when it comes to working with others and building bridges. They especially think it’s important that women collaborate with members of the other party and build private-public partnerships in order to prove their strengths. These qualifications should be woven into her personal narrative on the campaign trail.

4. Economic plan

Establishing economic credentials is also essential for women running for office. Women need economic expertise in order to convey their qualifications and likeability. In particular, voters respond well when a candidate has a written economic plan endorsed by businesses, brings state funding to the community, or has experience as a business owner. This issue is traditionally a weakness for women, although Republican women have an advantage over Democratic candidates.

5. Likeable

Finally, voters want a woman candidate to be likeable. It’s an unfair double standard that women face, but not men. Voters will vote for a qualified man even if they don’t like him, but women have to prove their likeability and qualifications over and over again. The good news? There are lots of ways to showcase this, including by highlighting her experience and plans.


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