This report draws upon data collected for explanatory case studies to examine the state of/change in women’s political power within five states – Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania – from 2010 to 2023.

To complete these case studies, we conducted 190 interviews with 192 political actors in each of these states (two interviews were conducted with two subjects at one time). Interview subjects include: current and former elected officials, party leaders, political practitioners (staff, consultants, lobbyists), activists and advocates, and women’s political group leaders. We focused primarily on women political actors (95% of interviews), asking them about (1) their own experience navigating the state’s political ecosystem; (2) their perceptions about women’s political power and progress, especially within the past decade; (3) their assessment of the support infrastructure for women in politics in the state (including its service of women across party and racial/ethnic lines); (4) their view on the strength and influence of political parties in the state; (5) their perceptions on where and with whom political power lies in the state; and (6) their insights into opportunities for increasing women’s political power.

Interviews were semi-structured and averaged one hour in length. They were conducted via Zoom between November 2021 and June 2023 by four senior members of CAWP’s staff: Kelly Dittmar (director of research), Kira Sanbonmatsu (senior scholar), Jean Sinzdak (associate director), and Debbie Walsh (director). Most of our interviews were conducted either entirely or primarily on the record. Confidentiality parameters were left to the discretion of each interview subject. Interviews have been transcribed and coded using Dedoose, allowing for detailed qualitative analysis.

In total, 192 of 301 (64%) individuals, including 183 of 277 (66%) women and 9 of 28 (32%) men, who were contacted for this project completed an interview between November 2021 and June 2023. In addition to identifying state leaders in the categories above for interview outreach, we asked interview subjects for recommendations for other individuals to include in our research. Securing participation by interview subjects required significant outreach via email, phone, and text messages (where requested). All interview targets were contacted at least three times using available methods unless they declined or scheduled an interview before those contacts were exhausted.

Within each state, we prioritized outreach to and participation of interview subjects from diverse political roles (see categories above), racial/ethnic groups, and political parties. The table below provides more detail on these interview subject characteristics across and within each of our case states, each of which vary in partisan control and racial/ethnic diversity in the state population.

In addition to interviews, we have collected and analyzed quantitative data on women’s representation within each states’ political institutions from 2010-2022. This includes CAWP’s existing data on women in elective office and women candidates, in addition to new data we have collected on women as a percentage of state legislative lobbyists (where available) and political donors (data provided by OpenSecrets). We have also collected more detailed information on women state legislators elected for the first time during our period of study to provide some additional insights into the backgrounds of women who have contributed most to gains in women’s officeholding, as well as greater clarity into the trends of these gains. Some of this data is referenced throughout this report, but more in-depth analysis and reporting will be shared in future publications.