Poll: Gen­der mat­ters in ’16 elec­tion, but does it help?

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Cather­ine Lucey and Emily Swan­son

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.

MELINA MARA/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

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