For the women of Washington, their current popularity knows no bounds.
According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Hillary’s favorable ratings have soared to an all-time high of 65%, with only 27% viewing the secretary of state in a negative light. Similarly, last week, Condoleezza Rice soared to the top of the list for the Veepstakes for the Republican nomination, garnering 26% of the popular vote.
In a poll released Thursday, both First Lady Michelle Obama and GOP contender Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney, surpassed their husbands in popularity, and that is no surprise. In a society that once revered women who exceeded the societal pressures of "being seen and not heard," the women who have taken Washington by storm live unapologetically. In an election year enmeshed in gender politics, amid the flurry of vice presidential predictions and insistent 2016 presidential rumors, Condi and Hil are out to prove that in the "war on women" is a battle that will be won by the women.
Females now comprise 51 % of the nation’s citizens, and decidedly hold the key to the presidential election. Since 1992, their impact in Washington has been significant. They have been the power players; a woman as speaker of the House, another on the GOP presidential ticket, yet another winning nearly 18 million votes for president in 2008. As the opposing sides in the presidential race struggle to garner female support this fall, their ideal running mate ideally is a woman.
When it comes to who will succeed in securing the presidential nomination in 2012, the ideal candidate must be poised, must be relatable, and above all else, must be admired. As such, when a poll by USA Today/Gallup released their findings earlier this year on who would be the most admired American man and woman – highlighting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – it seemed like the best presidential ticket in American had just been found. Obama and Hilary would undoubtedly be the dream team for the Democratic ticket; a perfect mix of experience, class, and appeal, mixed with just a hint of edge that would give the party a leg up in the upcoming election.
As the National Post reported, “Hillary Clinton as VP — the first woman to hold the office if she were to win, [would] open all sorts of possibilities.” In what will most likely be a daunting race in 2012, a running mate with that sort of appeal at the very least would give Obama a significant edge in securing a second term.
According to the recent Gallup poll, Hillary’s favorability rating has reached an all-time high — even amongst Republicans. The secretary of state switching places with current VP, Joe Biden, who is rumored to have wanted that position all along, would be the clincher for Obama campaign in 2012. As longtime political advisor Robert Reich told the Daily Caller, “Obama needs to stir the passions and enthusiasms of a Democratic base that’s been disillusioned with his cave-ins to regressive Republicans. Hillary Clinton on the ticket can do that.”
However, as Clinton said in an interview on CNN last week, "That is not going to happen."
For the GOP, on the other hand, Mitt Romney will be hard pressed to find a candidate more qualified for the oval office than Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush's national security adviser and secretary of state. Much like Hilary, Condi would garner support from the Republican base and the women vote, hopefully bridging the 20 point gender gap that could cost him the nomination.
Like Hillary, Condoleezza Rice habitually polled 20 points above President George W. Bush, when she was in office.
But like Hillary, she too ruled out hopes for a Rice-Romney moment.
At a time when gender politics are so entrenched in our political discourse, it is important to note that while we have not reached parity on Capitol Hill, we may just be on the path to achieving it. Perhaps we will not shatter the glass ceiling in 2012, but these trail blazers have forged a path for future generations of women like them that will one day lead to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Perhaps it is the candidness of these women in the political sphere that first elicited the most appeal from members of the party, as opposed to the novelty of their gender. The coveted female vote will be won not based upon sex but upon the policies and the realities that the candidate stands for.
To be clear... That’s an agenda, not a gender.