New BLFF Research about Women Lieutenant Governors

BLFF Team | Apr 26, 2023


The Barbara Lee Family Foundation’s new research, Second in Command: The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Women Lieutenant Governors explains voter’s perceptions of women running for or serving as lieutenant governor.

Read the full memo here.


Key findings from Second in Command include:

Having a prominent and active woman Lt. Governor reflects positively on the Governor. A solid majority (63%) of voters say they have warm, favorable feelings about a governor who has a prominent and active woman lieutenant governor, though intensely warm, favorable feelings were low and three in ten voters were neutral. Across gender, age, party identification, and race, majorities of voters feel warmly, and Democrats (75%) and AAPI (70%), Black (68%), and Latinx (67%) voters are most likely to say they have warm, favorable feelings about a Governor who has a prominent and active woman Lieutenant Governor.


With little knowledge among the electorate about lieutenant governors, the role of Lt. Governor is a blank slate. For many voters, there is a lack of awareness around the role of Lt. Governors. Governors and Lt. Governors have an opportunity to define the role and tell the story of their accomplishments to the public.


Voters also don’t have strong opinions about Lt. Governors. Voters say they do not have that much information about a lieutenant governor and what roles they may play. They feel they do not hear much from them or about them. This lack of intensity about the role could be because people do not think of the office of Lieutenant Governor as that important.


Most people didn’t express a preference for the gender of a Lt. Governor. Though there was a gender gap for those who did express a preference: men preferred a male Lt. Governor and women preferred a woman Lt. Governor. Black, Latinx, AAPI, and Native/Indigenous voters prefer a woman. However, while most say their friends and neighbors would likely have no gender preference, both men and women voters think their neighbors would prefer a man to a woman Lt. Governor.


Voters want to know about the Lt. Governor’s own individual accomplishments in office. They want to know what results the Lt. Governor has achieved themselves, rather than how they may have assisted the Governor.  Across demographic subgroups, voters rate supporting the governor as the least or one of the least important qualities. They want to know which results the lieutenant governor has achieved, not how or what she assisted. They want someone who is a problem solver and want to know what problems they have solved.


Voters are more interested in the Lt. Governor’s relationships with constituents than to the Governor. What matters is that the Lt. Governor listens to the people and stands up for the people while being ethical and accountable. The Lt. Governor’s relationship with the Governor was not important to voters. It didn’t matter if the Governor and Lt. Governor were friends, or liked each other. They want to see a Lt. Governor establish their own profile.


Voters want to see their Lt. Governor demonstrate two-way communication, show accountability, and actively get things done.  The traits that voters said are most important are  focusing on issues that matter in the state, helping respond to a crisis, and listening to the people and bringing information back




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