PS: Political Science & Politics


Does an EMILY's List Endorsement Predict Electoral Success, or Does EMILY Pick the Winners?

Rebecca J. Hannagana1, Jamie P. Pimlotta2 and Levente Littvaya3

a1 Northern Illinois University

a2 Niagara University

a3 Central European University


Women's political action committees (PACs)—those committees founded by women to raise money for women candidates—have been and will likely continue to be an important part of American electoral politics. In this article, we investigate the impact of EMILY's List, because it is the standard bearer of women's PACs and is commonly cited as crucial to women's electoral success. Empirical studies of EMILY's List impact to date have largely assumed causal inference by using traditional linear models. We use a propensity score–matching model to leverage on causality and find that an EMILY endorsement helps some candidates and hurts others. Our findings set the stage for further and more nuanced investigations of when, where, and how EMILY's List can enhance the likelihood of electoral success for women.

Rebecca J. Hannagan is an assistant professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, where she is also an associate of women's studies and an associate of the Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault. She specializes in the biological underpinnings of gendered political behavior. She can be reached at

Jamie Pimlott is an assistant professor of political science at Niagara University. She specializes in elections, campaign finance, and gender politics. She can be reached at

Levente Littvay is an assistant professor of political science at Central European University, where he is also an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Imperfections in Democracies. He specializes in finding analytical strategies to complex problems in any field of science. He can be reached at