Poll: Gender matters in ’16 election, but does it help?
DES MOINES, Iowa — There’s no “glass ceiling” keeping a woman from the presidential nomination anymore, but most Americans still think Hillary Clinton’s gender will influence the November election. They’re just divided on whether it’s more of a curse than a blessing.
According to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, most Americans see Clinton’s gender playing a role in the campaign, with 37 percent saying her gender will help her chances of being elected president, 29 percent arguing it will hurt her and 33 percent thinking it won’t make a difference.
Clinton, who officially clinched the Democratic nomination in July, has embraced the history-making nature of this campaign, compared to her 2008 presidential bid, which played down her gender. As she competes with Republican Donald Trump, Clinton has focused heavily on policies that appeal to female voters, like equal pay and paid maternity leave, and has stressed that she wants young women and girls to follow in her footsteps.
In contrast, critics say many of Trump’s attacks on Clinton look like gender bias. Trump has called Clinton weak, complained about her voice, questioned her appearance and said she is playing the “women’s card” to win.
Womenhave made strides in elected office in the U.S. but still have not clinched the top job. The latest poll numbers show that many Americans still think women have fewer opportunities in politics compared to men.
Most Americans think women are tough enough to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has embraced the history-making nature of this year’s campaign. handle the challenges facing a president, but the poll shows that some remain unconvinced. Overall, 75 percent of Americans say they think men and women make equally good political leaders, while 17 percent think men make better leaders and 7 percent say women do. Still, about a quarter of Americans, including nearly half of Republicans and more than half of Americans who have a favorable view of Trump, think a female president would not be tough enough to handle a military crisis or a terrorist attack. Men and women are about equally likely to say that.
More than half of Americans say they consider Clinton a positive role model for other women, though more than two-thirds say the fact that Clinton would be the first woman president doesn’t affect their vote.
After decades in the spotlight, serving as first lady, senator and secretary of state, public sentiment on Clinton is mixed, and she has high negative ratings. Still, Americans are more likely to think Clinton is being held to a higher standard than other candidates than a lower one, 40 percent to 23 percent. Over two-thirds of those who think she’s being held to a higher standard say that’s because she’s a woman, while significantly fewer of those who think she’s being held to a lower one think her gender is the explanation. In total, more than a third of Americans think Clinton is being held to a different standard, either higher or lower, specifically because of her gender.
Leaving aside the question of whether Clinton is the right woman for the job, just 47 percent of Americans think it would be a good thing for the country to elect a female president, while 11 percent think it would be a bad thing, and 41 percent say it doesn’t matter.
Despite gains made by women in elected office, just over half of Americans say gender discrimination remains a problem for women in politics, while about 3 in 10 feel the opportunities are about the same. About 2 in 10 think women have more opportunities.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,096 adults was conducted Aug. 11-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. Respondents were interviewed online or by phone.