Almost a hundred years ago, Sigmund Freud famously asked, “What do women want?” In political terms, the answer is unmistakable: What women want is a woman president. And their voting preferences are showing how strongly they feel.
According to the Gallup Poll of November 9-12, both Democratic and Republican women disproportionately support their party’s potential female candidates. While it has not been unusual to see polls showing a bias by female voters in favor of women who run on the Democratic Party line, most of these surveys have failed to distinguish whether it is party or gender that is attracting female voters. And, until recently, Republican women have not shown a preference for a female candidate.
But the Gallup Poll tested Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in a Democratic primary field and Condoleezza Rice in a Republican match-up. Among both sexes, Hillary ran first in her party with 31 percent of the vote, followed by newly hyped Sen. Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump moves toward repealing Obama EPA water rule Poll: More than 6 in 10 oppose ObamaCare repeal Jake Tapper falls — no, leaps — into Trump’s trap MORE (Ill.) at 19 percent, John Edwards, likely benefiting from his wife’s best-selling book, at 10 percent, Al GoreAl GoreObamas sign with agency for speaking gigs Pence to attend Super Bowl: report The war against science MORE at 9 percent and Sen. John KerryJohn KerryWhere do we stand on the Iran deal under President Trump? New York Knicks owner gave 0K to pro-Trump group A bold, common sense UN move for the Trump administration MORE (Mass.), probably suffering from his foot-in-mouth disease, back at 7 percent.
On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani led with 28 percent, followed by Sen. John McCainJohn McCainTrump fires opening salvo in budget wars Overnight Finance: Trump budget to boost military, slash nondefense spending | Senate confirms Commerce pick | House Intel chief won't subpoena tax returns Overnight Defense: Trump proposes 3B defense budget | Defense hawks say proposal falls short | Pentagon to probe Yemen raid MORE (Ariz.) at 26 percent, Rice at 13 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) at 7 percent, outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 5 percent and soon-to-be-former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) at 4 percent.
But since both fields are cluttered with possible non-candidates, the real relevance of this survey is to demonstrate the impact of a female candidate on voters of both parties.
Hillary was favored by 38 percent of the women in the Gallup Poll’s Democratic Primary match-up but got only 23 percent of the men. On the Republican side, Rice won 18 percent of the women and only 8 percent of the men.
Such a dramatic gender gap, on each side of the partisan divide, illustrates the power of a woman candidate, from either party, running for president.
Remember that women are 52 percent of our population, 54 percent of the registered vote, and usually between 55 percent and 56 percent of actual turnout.
Indeed, so powerful is the female vote that it is credited with swinging two of our last three presidential elections. In 1996, it was the soccer moms who turned away from the abstract “family values” of the Republicans to embrace the more pragmatic and specific child- and education-focused programs of the Clinton administration. In 2004, these same moms, now designated “security moms,” turned away from the bite-sized measures of the Democrats and voted for the tough anti-terrorist policies of George Bush.
Nineteen million single women voted in 2000 and 27 million came out in 2004. If a woman runs for president, it stands to reason that such turnout will rise still further. If single women vote in proportion to their share of the national population, they could account for 32 million votes in 2008. Since women who are either divorced, widowed, or never married voted Democratic by a two-to-one margin in 2004 and 2006, it is likely that this influx of single women will be crucial to Hillary’s candidacy (or to Rice’s if she decides to run).
In our male-dominated political world, where pundits speak mainly to one another and confirm each other’s wisdom, we do not fully appreciate the power of a woman candidate. Single moms, disproportionately in poverty, burdened by the need for good daycare and schools, often rotting in minimum-wage jobs, are natural fodder for a woman Democrat who can identify with their plight and focus on their needs. The cultural outpouring that would likely greet the first woman to be nominated by a party to run for president would probably drive these women out in droves to vote and participate in the political process.
It could be that women get what they want in 2008.
Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill ClintonBill ClintonFinally, an immigration reform bill that tackles family migration 5 ways politics could steal the show at Oscars Clinton: Dems will be 'strong, unified' with Perez MORE, is the author of “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race.” To get Dick Morris’s columns e-mailed to you for free, please send him your e-mail address. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.