THOMAS P. KIM
Clarence Thomas and the Politicization of Candidate Gender in the 1992 Senate Elections
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXIII:399-418

The Clarence Thomas confirmation battle was a highly politicized, controversial, and symbolic event that clearly affected the 1992 Senate elections. Various hypotheses attempting to explain the controversy's impact on election results have focused on mass voting behavior based on group self-interest, negative voting against incumbent Senators, or on the symbolic impact of the confirmation vote. I focus instead on the actions of strategic political elites, hypothesizing that female elite behavior successfully politicized candidate, rather than voter, gender into an electoral asset in the 1992 Senate elections. As usual, strategic elites translated national political tides into local outcomes, but in the process, female candidate exploitation of the Thomas controversy led to several interesting and unusual implications.


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