Media Love for Hillary Clinton Is a Republican Asset for 2008
I am not sure when it happened, but recently the American media decided that Hillary Clinton will be the next President. They didn’t even wait for Oprah’s endorsement. As a political consultant and researcher, I am used to rhetoric being offered as fact. But this time around, a new variable requires greater skepticism. In the 2008 Presidential election, will voters support a female?
The assumption is yes. The voices of this election refuse to address this issue in fear of being banished to the island of the non-P.C. In attempt to communicate forward-thinking views, serious examination of the gender effect has been omitted. “Look at me, I won’t even acknowledge Hillary’s gender because society has moved past this consideration.” But in fact, a real dialog on America’s historical and continued evolution beyond discrimination has been lost. With over twenty years of political work, I know that selling a candidate requires answering the most difficult questions first.
In the 2006 U.S. Senatorial campaign, I was presented with a female candidate who was relatively unknown and saddled with a last name that was unwieldy. What to do? The logical solution was to emphasize her first name. The incumbent was also a woman and two very different female names was a good way to set up a natural contrast. We decided to change all of the print materials and yard signs to display “BARBARA.” I was confident in the decision, but needed research to confirm.
My firm conducts political research using a unique algorithm. Our results are trusted because of our accuracy. We included name response along with the issue research we did for this candidate. Surprise, over twenty percent of likely voters did not like the name Barbara. More importantly, they fell into two distinct groups which could be specifically targeted with a different approach.
Recent Gallop Polls have indicated that nearly 90% of American voters would support a female presidential candidate. This could be misleading, as it is the politically correct response to give. In my own surveys, I have inquired “Would you vote for a women for the office of …?” This is quite different asking if a voter prefers candidate A over candidate B, where candidate A is female. It is not a matter of politics, but rather of voter evolution. The person who actually casts a ballot in America might not be ready to vote for a female in the quantity required for an Electoral College victory.