Brendan Nyhan in New York Times’ the Upshot makes a smart case for why media coverage of Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings fails to tell the whole story. It’s true that in past presidential elections, early favorability polls have not predicted the winner, especially not 16 months before voters fill out their ballots. There’s a key difference, however, for Hillary Clinton: Her gender.
Category: From the Experts
When Mitch McConnell told a Kentucky audience that “the gender card alone is not enough” for Hillary Clinton to be elected president, he ignited a debate about (1) what the “gender card” is and (2) how you “play” it. Clinton’s response redefined the concept from McConnell’s narrow claims that it means “arguing ‘vote for me because I’m a woman.’” In her positions and policy-based definition, Republicans play the gender card by promoting policies that work to women’s disadvantage, while Clinton and her colleagues “[fight] for politics that help families get ahead.” But neither definition gets to the heart of gender dynamics in our political institutions and campaigns.
Republican Governor John Kasich launched his presidential campaign this morning, joining 15 other Republicans and 5 Democrats in seeking the nation’s highest office. With announcements coming on a regular basis, it’s hard to generate interest in yet another man joining the race. In fact, the more interesting story has become the high number of candidates itself. As Larry Sabato has noted, this year’s election already has a record number of candidates for any one party (Republicans). However, there is an interesting gender story to tell as the candidate list grows. Yes, this campaign marks the first time we have women candidates running for both major party nominations. But, those women – Hillary Clinton (D) and Carly Fiorina (R) – represent just 9.5% of all major party presidential contenders. Of course, Clinton’s status as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination is incredibly important. Still, I find it hard to believe that women represent less than ten percent of the talent pool in the presidential pipeline.
Presidential Gender Watch asked Dr. Leanne Doherty, author of Level Playing Field for All? Female Political Leadership and Athletics, to weigh in on how last weekend’s 2015 World Cup win relates to presidential politics in the 2016 campaign. See our conversation here and share your thoughts in the comments section or on social media.
Amid the near-daily presidential candidacy announcements this summer was one from another woman – Jill Stein. Stein, the 2012 presidential nominee for the Green Party, launched her 2016 bid for the same party on June 22nd. She is not unopposed in her bid for the Green Party nomination this year, but her name recognition and infrastructure from 2012 positions her as a clear front-runner for the party’s spot on the presidential ballot.
The 2016 presidential cycle is an unprecedented moment in presidential history—the first time there is a woman vying for the nomination of each major party. While we’ve never seen such a race play out on the national stage, we have seen women running against each other for governor. These executive-level races provide the best available cues about gender dynamics in a woman vs. woman contest.
Yesterday, Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for president of the United States. But it isn’t only Jeb who will be under the electoral microscope for the next 18 months. Profiles of his wife have already surfaced, with the latest coming in this month’s Atlantic, where Hannah Rosin describes Columba Bush’s aversion to the spotlight and calls her the “anti-Clare Underwood” as a far less extroverted and involved political spouse. Columba Bush is not the only political spouse earning attention in the 2016 race. Kelley Paul has earned much attention already, The Washington Post profiled Frank Fiorina in May, and Bill Clinton’s role and influence have been repeatedly debated in print and on TV.
The road to 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting journey. This week, Carly Fiorina officially joined Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for president. As America ponders if we are “ready” for a woman president, the road to 2016 and beyond provides a unique opportunity to harness women’s political and economic power to elevate women’s voices in important debates and impact this election in a significant way, including supporting and electing more women.
There is an often-told story among women leaders about a common experience they have had in meetings where men significantly outnumber women. Maybe you have heard it. It goes like this: the team or committee is grappling with a problem and everyone is chiming in, offering different approaches and solutions. One of the two or three women present tosses out an idea, but the conversation continues. A few minutes later, one of the men repeats her idea and the group seizes on it as the way to go.
What causes the team to hear him, but not her? Did his deeper voice command reflexive respect? Was he a larger presence, physically or emotionally, or both? Did he speak with more authority?
It’s impossible to know exactly. Yet, it seems clear that a woman with a good idea was treated as “lesser than” the guy who subsequently succeeds with her idea. It also seems to be true that the whole group, women and men alike, discount her.
Nearly all voters say they are open to a woman president and two-thirds say America is ready for a woman president, but most voters tell pollsters that gender will not play a significant role in how they cast their vote. Of course a candidate’s gender will play a role on some level, whether voters are aware of it or not. However, party is far more important than gender as a vote determinant. Even within their party, women voters do not necessarily line up behind the female candidate.