Q&A Friday #15: Can A Woman Become President?

Question: In two parts:

A) Do you trust polls that say that only about 50% of Americans would vote for a female president? (one recent poll showed more than 80% saying they would but only 50% thought their friend/family would).

B) If this is true, what does it mean? Is it because a woman might not be tough on enemies? Or because women are too emotional? Is it just that we need a female VP first? What does this mean for Hillary and Condi? Would the republicans not run Condi because of this plus the possibility that female+black is just too much?” — liberty

Answer: Before I get in trouble, let me just make it clear that I’m not talking about my personal feelings, I’m talking about political “strategery” and public perception here. There’s a big difference. But on to the questions:

A) As far as polls go, there’s a Rasmussen poll out showing that only 72% of respondents would vote for a woman in the White House. Do I buy that? For the most part, no. There are female Senators, like Liddy Dole from here in North Carolina, and if women can make it to the Senate, I see no reason why they can’t make it to the White House as well.

B) That being said, I do think that female candidates for the presidency had better be very careful not to play to any stereotypes that could hurt them. If you’re a woman, you better sound tough as nails on defense and crime. You better not cry, you better not come across as being emotional or having wild mood swings. In other words, the voters will feel a lot more comfortable with another Margaret Thatcher than a touchy, feely Oprah type.

As far as Condi and Hillary go, Condi’s foreign policy experience and hawkishness would help stem any doubts about being too soft for the presidency. Hillary on the other hand could be hurt more by stories about emotional outbursts behind the scenes with her husband and because Democrats are considered to be soft on defense any way.

In any case, I think we’ll probably see a female President in our lifetime and maybe even in 2008…

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