Political Scientists: A Profile of Congressional Candidates with STEM Backgrounds

Political Scientists: A Profile of Congressional Candidates with STEM Backgrounds

By Matthew Motta, Oklahoma State University

Candidates with STEM backgrounds ran for Congress in record number in 2018. Understanding who participates in this form of “mobilized science,” and whether or not they are successful, is important; as these candidates may campaign – and ultimately take action – to advance science-informed policies. However, while journalistic coverage of individual candidates is plentiful, few have studied them collectively. I constructed a novel dataset that allows me to descriptively profile nearly two hundred STEM candidates who ran in 2018, and explore correlates of their electoral success. I find that three quarters of the candidates are first-time Congressional candidates; most of whom are Democrats and men. Democratic incumbents and candidates endorsed by 314 PAC were significantly more likely to advance to the general election. I also find that women Democrats with STEM backgrounds are just as likely (and perhaps more likely) to advance to the general election. I conclude by discussing how these findings advance the study of mobilized science in an increasingly-partisan era.

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