Women’s group says U.S. is ready for female president
Washington (CNN) — When it comes to the White House, the term “Madame President” has become more of a possibility in recent years, but one group wants to make sure it becomes reality-and soon.
EMILY’s List, a political organization that works to get Democratic women elected to public office, kicked off a new campaign Thursday to further drive home the idea that the country is ready for a woman president.
The campaign will target voters in 2016 battleground states and hold events in Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire in the coming months. The group says it will also use what it describes as “significant, sustained” advertising to get out its message.
Women, they argue, are better positioned than ever in the political class. The Senate now has a record number of women-16 Democrats and four Republicans. And for the first time, one state (New Hampshire) has an entire delegation made of women, including the governorship, U.S. senators and members of the House.
It’s no secret that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considered the Democratic Party’s leading contender for the presidential nomination, should she decided to run in 2016. A new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday indicates 65% of Democrats and Democratic leaners would support the former first lady and senator from New York.
But EMILY’s List organizers want to make clear they’re not laying the foundation for one particular candidate.
“There’s a great pipeline of women right now who should be thinking about what their options are,” Stephanie Schriock, the group’s president, told CNN at the campaign unveiling in Washington.
Schriock mentioned a number of other high-profile women with potential for the nation’s highest elected office. Those names include Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Sen. Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire, who also served as the state’s governor.
In addition to other candidates the group is supporting in gubernatorial and congressional campaigns, Schriock said the women “we elect next year are our bench for the presidency for 2020, 2024, 2028. This is a constant movement and a campaign that isn’t just about one election.”
But looking at the near future, EMILY’s List commissioned the Democratic polling firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research for a survey that -not surprisingly-found that women are on voters’ radar for 2016 as well. In the survey of 800 likely 2016 voters across nine battleground states, they found 90 percent of voters said they would consider voting for a qualified woman candidate from their party, and 86% said the country is ready to elect a woman president.
According to the EMILY’s List poll, a strong majority of voters expect to see a woman in the Oval Office soon. Nearly three-fourths voters said they believe the country will elect a woman president in 2016.
Voters acknowledge that it’s more difficult for a woman to win the presidency, but said she’d be perceived as capable or more capable than a male president when it comes to ending partisan bickering and juggling work-life balance, according to the group’s data. Male presidents, on the other hand, had higher numbers on issues of national security, getting the economy moving and working with allies around the world.
The group’s survey asked about particular candidates, but they did not release that information Thursday. However, they urged other national polling groups to start including more women besides Clinton in their questionnaires.
“They truth is, this is a wide open race if the secretary chooses not to do this,” Schriock said.
Of the potential 2016 contenders, Clinton has some of the biggest support efforts behind her. The super PAC, “Ready for Hillary”, has already been on the move and getting grassroots support in place in case she throws her hat in the ring.
Schriock stressed she won’t reveal any discussions she has or hasn’t had with potential candidates. Her group is not working directly with “Ready for Hillary,” but she said she’s “thrilled” that they’re out there working to support a woman who could run for president.
“Just like everybody else, we’re all reading the same things (about Clinton’s potential bid) and I think when she makes a decision, we’ll know what it is,” she said.