For Republican Women, a Female President Just Doesn't Appeal, Scary Pew Research Poll Shows
Do you think it would be high time for the United States to finally elect a woman to the White House? We've been coming up with men for over 220 years, after all — up until 2008, exclusively white men — so it makes sense to wish for a little more diversity in the Oval Office. That is, it makes sense if you're a female Democrat, as revealed in a Pew poll Wednesday: only 20 percent of Republican women hope a female president will be elected in their lifetime, a figure that's equal parts dismaying, strange, and altogether puzzling. Really? Only 20 percent?
To be clear, the full slate of Pew's findings in its big poll on women in American society was actually not so dire across the board, showing some areas of promise. Apparently, 43 percent of all respondents did state that structural inequalities were to blame for the dearth of women in corporate leadership, and 38 percent backed the same claim as pertains to high political office. But when Pew drilled down into women, the GOP and the presidency specifically, their glaring finding practically leaps off the page — only 20 percent of Republican women want to see someone like them in the top job? What should we make of that?
Taken with full context, it's maybe slightly easier to reckon with, though no less depressing. The truth is, the entire picture isn't that rosy — in total, only 38 percent of American adults said they hoped to see the election of a woman to the Presidency, a number buoyed by the sky-high hopes of Democratic women, at 69 percent. Even Democratic men were relatively apathetic at the thought, with just 46 percent wanting to see that history made. Republican men, predictably, were the least interested, with just 16 percent saying they wanted to see it.
Also possibly significant, however delicately and precisely Pew posed the question, are the political realities of the United States as we know it today. Obviously, everyone knows which party is more likely to elect a woman, at this moment in history at least. Hint: It's the one with a woman frontrunner for the 2016 nomination, not the one that could be kicking the tires on Mitt Romney for a third time. As such, the question "Do you hope to see a female president?" is kind of like asking "Do you hope to see a Democratic president?" Maybe if Carly Fiorina picked up some steam (as a Californian who watched her Senate campaign closely, I'd rate this as "not likely"), this could improve slightly?
This still doesn't quite account for such dismal figures on the GOP side, though. There's obviously some specific hesitation beyond presumed party affiliation in play here, otherwise more than 43 percent of Democratic men would've surely answered yes. Maybe it's because the last time the GOP fielded a woman on the presidential ticket, it didn't go so well? Or, of course, maybe the oldest answer is still the truest: sexism, both personal and institutional, still teeming with strength after all these years. Hopefully we won't even have polling firms asking about this someday soon, because the history will already have been made.
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