Heldman et al-She Brought only a Skirt

Heldman et al-She Brought only a Skirt - Political...

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315 Political Communication, 22:315–335 Copyright 2005 Taylor & Francis Inc. ISSN: 1058-4609 print / 1091-7675 online DOI: 10.1080/10584600591006564 “She Brought Only a Skirt”: Print Media Coverage of Elizabeth Dole’s Bid for the Republican Presidential Nomination CAROLINE HELDMAN, SUSAN J. CARROLL, and STEPHANIE OLSON This article analyzes two data sets to determine differences in print media coverage of Elizabeth Dole and five other Republican contenders for the presidential nomina- tion in 1999: George W. Bush, John McCain, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, and Steve Forbes. Our findings indicate that Dole received a differential amount and type of print media coverage that was decidedly gendered and may have hindered her can- didacy. Dole did not receive an amount of media coverage consistent with her standing as the number two candidate in the polls throughout the time period we examined, and the press paid more attention to Dole’s personality traits and appearance than to the traits and appearance of other candidates. Journalists also repeatedly framed Dole as the “first woman” to be a serious presidential candidate and focused on her gender more than any other aspect of her candidacy, suggesting implicitly, if not explicitly, that she was a novelty in the race rather than a strong contender with a good chance of winning. Keywords Elizabeth Dole, female candidates, gender differences in media cover- age, gendered media coverage, media coverage, presidency, presidential candidates, presidential race, women candidates On October 20, 1999, Elizabeth Dole dropped out of the race for the Republican presi- dential nomination. Her withdrawal came before the first presidential primary and only 7 months after she had entered the race on March 10, 1999. While Dole’s candidacy was short-lived, it was the longest and most serious bid by a woman for a major party’s presidential nomination in the previous two decades. Only one woman, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, has been a contender for a major party’s presidential nomination, and We wish to thank Kristen Rhinehart, whose work on this project was supported through the Kneller Fund in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers, for her very capable assistance. We also thank Mark Schlesinger and Kevin Smith for their careful reading and insightful com- ments on this article. Caroline Heldman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Whittier College. Susan J. Carroll is Professor of Political Science and Senior Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Stephanie Olson is a graduate student at Rutgers University. Address correspondence to Caroline Heldman, Whittier College, 13406 Philadelphia St., Whittier, CA 90608, USA. E-mail: [email protected]
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316 Caroline Heldman et al.
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