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« Lebanese Dedication. | WILLisms.com | Reform Thursday: Week Ten. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 9 -- Support For A Woman For President.



Page 101 of American Public Opinion: Its Origins, Content, and Impact, written by Professors Robert S. Erikson and Kent L. Tedin, adapted from data from Gallup and the General Social Survey (GSS).

Support among the American people for a female president has seen dramatic gains over several decades. However, as The White House Project notes, "when given a choice between a woman and a man they still choose a man at least 42% of the time."

Similarly, in a recent survey, largely reported as a positive development for women, only 81% said they would vote for a woman, its lowest point since the 1970s.

One rule of thumb in polling is that people tend to support abstractions, generalities, and such, more than specifics. Perhaps, because respondents today can associate specific women with an eye on the White House (the much-loathed Senator Clinton, for example), they are slightly less supportive of the idea. What once was a nice generality is now an unambiguous and impending tangibility, and maybe it just makes people shiver to imagine Hillary Clinton as Commander-in-Chief.

There is also the possibility that 9/11 made Americans reevaluate the kinds of characteristics they want from their leaders. One of those might be "toughness on national security." Those 1-in-5 Americans who wouldn't vote for a woman for president might believe a man should be the leader of the free world in times like these; both unfair stereotypes and legitimate realities of gender differences might make some people uncomfortable with the idea of a woman leading our country at a time of war.

Or, perhaps, question wording, question order, differing poll methodologies, or some other effect is at play here.

Alternatively, there is the possibility that the numbers, all of them, are inflated. People might carry with them latent, patronizing sentiments about the fairer sex, and if it came right down to it, they might disqualify a female candidate arbitrarily. They just don't want to admit that.

The bottom line, however, is that far more Americans are supportive of the idea of a woman president than in the past, but we may still need another decade or so before Americans are truly ready to elect a female president.

Will we see a race between Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice in 2008? We wouldn't bet on that just yet.

Previous trivia tidbits:

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.
Part 4.
Part 5.
Part 6.
Part 7.
Part 8.

Stay tuned to WILLisms.com for more daily trivia tidbits.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 April 2005 10:07 AM


Condoleeza said she won't run! I would sure vote for her! I can't really think of anyone right off the bat, that would be better than Condoleeza man or woman? At least not for a few more years. I have someone in mind but he isn't old enough yet! HMmmmmmm.... Who could that be?

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at April 7, 2005 10:51 AM

Do you remember when the Clintons finally left the White House... There was a political comic who had Hillary hanging on to the curtains and the white House Staff were trying to get her to leave! She is still hanging on to those curtains for dear life! I wish she would let go! It is time to go now...Bye BYE!

Posted by: Taffy at April 7, 2005 12:52 PM