Over time, our American society has been fixated on trying to achieve demographic representation in political realms among all three branches. The recent excitement of progress in terms of slightly more equal gender representation in the United States Congress, with almost one-quarter of the total body after the 2018 midterm election consisting of women, was an element of motivation for this thesis. Throughout the thesis, the Literature Review and Theory section presents background as to the importance of representation in general provided by well-respected political scientists’ work. It follows with a section on Women’s Impact on the Political Sphere, and discusses quality candidates in regards to common characteristics political scientists, particularly Peverill Squire, claim are crucial to political success. As the interest for the thesis arose from President Trump’s victory in 2016, as public opinion buoyed an outsider into the most prestigious elected office, my ultimate research question deals with the profile of the winning candidate of first-time members to the House of Representatives in the past ten years and whether Trump’s election may be indicative of the changing type and quality of qualified candidates who are winning Congressional seats recently. It is crucial for both the political parties and society to be aware of the type and common qualifications of political candidates running and ultimately winning in recent years. With a coding metric, similar to Squire’s, research was conducted by coding first-time elected House members’ backgrounds provided by CSPAN over the past ten years, 110th-116th Congressional sessions. The intent was hoping to show how the type of quality candidate is evolving over time. This was demonstrated by determining whether political candidates’ highest level of education, occupation before Congress, and highest level of prior political experience was really that crucial to their success or considered by voters as not as important in terms of being a qualified, winnable candidate when measuring against age, gender, and party affiliation. There were many notable results in regards to overall trends and incredible differences between males and females between each variable measured just within the past ten years. While there is a noticeable increase in those winning with zero prior political experience this past midterm election, and although President Trump’s election was not analyzed as a potential cause of the rise in success of those without prior office experience, my hypothesize was correct in that there could be a correlation drawn as to Trump’s influence upon the change in this country’s thoughts towards candidates. Among other noticeable results, this thesis finds that despite extensive preceding political science research on quality candidates, prior office experience may not be considered as relevant anymore to voters in terms of considering a quality candidate, and the prior “on paper” qualifications in order to be successful may be evolving in today’s politics, most especially for first-time members in the House of Representatives.
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