MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
You have probably heard about the stubborn pay gap that persists between men and women. Well, a similar kind of disparity is playing in House campaigns all around the country. In the 67 House races that will determine which party has the majority next year, just over half of the Democratic candidates are women. And an NPR analysis finds a fundraising gap affecting those Democratic women. But they're working to overcome it, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.
PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: One casualty of the fundraising gap is Kara Eastman. She's the Democratic nominee in Nebraska's 2nd District, Omaha and its suburbs. Eastman said the congressional district is relatively cheap to run in since it's just a single-media market. Still...
KARA EASTMAN: We continue to raise money. Actually over 90 percent of my donations have come from individuals.
OVERBY: Eastman has gotten nearly half her money, 44 percent, in small contributions of $200 or less.
EASTMAN: And that's something I'm really proud of.
OVERBY: Her opponent is a one-term Republican with close ties to business and business PACs. He's raised more than twice as much as she has.
EASTMAN: I mean, look; we anticipate that we will be outspent in this race.
OVERBY: Eastman is among the 67 Democrats running in competitive districts as rated by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Thirty-four of the Democrats are women. NPR analyzed the campaign finance reports and found that on average the Democratic men are raising a half million dollars more than the women. Taryn Rosenkranz wasn't surprised. She's the founder of a digital media consulting firm in Washington.
TARYN ROSENKRANZ: For the last 20 years for sure, they just have always trailed behind, and I'm sure it's for the last hundred years or however long we've been tracking financial contributions.
OVERBY: There are structural reasons for the fundraising gap. Women earn less than men, and they're less wealthy. These factors perpetuate the gap, said Kira Sanbonmatsu, senior scholar at Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics.
KIRA SANBONMATSU: Men giving money to politics tend to give more money than women, and so women have not had that same giving tradition in politics.
OVERBY: One remedy is to build networks, big ones like EMILY's List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women, and smaller networks, such as the one in Massachusetts that's helping Angie Craig in Minnesota. Like a lot of candidates, Craig raises most of her money from Democrats in other states.
ANGIE CRAIG: They realize there's no way that their congressmen can do the work for them unless we have the majority in the House of Representatives.
OVERBY: This is where Katherine Clark comes in. She's a congresswoman in Massachusetts.
KATHERINE CLARK: When I ran for Congress back in 2013, I had the exceedingly rare donors that were majority women.
OVERBY: And now Clark said she's sharing these donors with other Democratic women.
CLARK: What I have tried to do in this effort to flip the House and elect more women to Congress is tap that network of donors.
OVERBY: The fundraising picture will become clearer and maybe brighter for the Democratic women when the next reports are filed in mid-October. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.
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