Memories of President Obama's second inauguration are still fresh in our minds, yet pundits and pollsters alike are busy attempting to predict who the 2016 presidential candidates will be. A recent Quinnipiac University survey shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be the most popular U.S. politician. With a 61% to 34% favorable to unfavorable rating, she could very well run in 2016, and do well enough to beat out possible Republican opponents Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and former Governor Jeb Bush (Fla.). She even surpassed President Obama in popularity. His favorability rating is 51%, while 46% view him unfavorably.
All of these numbers could come as a surprise, yet nothing in this poll is really baffling. Clinton has been one of the most popular female political figures since she became first lady in 1993. She has also been a senator and the nation's chief diplomat, and has come closer to the White House than any other woman. Her record as secretary of state, despite the controversy over Benghazi, has been a testament to her work ethic and humility. Despite vaguely denying her intent to run for the 2016 election, Clinton remains a top choice for Democrats, and perhaps for the American public as well.
In a time when issues such as abortion and contraception are at the forefront of our public discourse, we find ourselves asking the age-old question of if this country is ready for a female president. If Pakistan, which ranks last in the global gender gap index among the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, could elect a female prime minister (Benazir Bhutto), why can the United States not seem to achieve the same? The fact that American voters even question if a female President is something we are “ready” for can indicate that voters believe a woman would perform differently in office than a man.
As the Quinnipiac poll shows, if the United States were to elect a female president in 2016, it would most likely be Hillary Clinton. She is a woman who commands respect, and has a formidable list of accomplishments. Her resistance to succumb to embarrassing scandals and quite surly Republican senators may be why the American public respects her immensely. She has been a pillar for the fight for women’s rights abroad and stateside. She has been bold in her addresses concerning rights abuses, and in 1995 she even declared to a Chinese crowd that “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.” Her message still resonates today in the United States.