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Majority of Americans Say More Women in Political Office Would Be Positive for the Country

Majority of Americans Say More Women in Political Office Would Be Positive for the Country

Almost all Americans say they would vote for a woman for president

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ – The results of the 2000 election were historic in many ways, one of which is the gender composition of the new Congress. The 107th Congress now includes more women than ever before: 13 Senators (including Hillary Rodham Clinton) and 59 Representatives. According to a recent Gallup Poll, the public welcomes such political gains by women. A majority of Americans—57%—say that this country would be governed better if there were more women in political office. A minority (17%) thinks governing would be worse and a fifth of Americans (20%) do not think having more women in office would make a difference. These sentiments have changed significantly over the past 16 years—most of the change stemming from a decline in the belief that electing more women would not affect the quality of government. In 1984, just 28% of Americans thought increasing the number of women in politics would be beneficial, and 46% of Americans said that they did not think electing more women would make a difference in the quality of government.

Women More Likely Than Men to View Women in Government as a Positive
According to the December 2-4 Gallup poll, 64% of women think that America would be in better hands if more women were in politics; half of men also feel this way. Only a minority of both men and women say that the country would be governed worse with more women at the helm—20% of men say this and 14% of women agree. Men are slightly more likely than women not to see a difference between the governing skills of the genders—25% of men say that electing more women would not make a difference compared to 14% of women.

Younger Americans, both men and women, are more likely than those who are older to perceive that government would benefit from adding more women.

  • Fifty-five percent of men between the ages of 18 and 49 say that this country would be governed better if there were more women in political office, compared to 40% of men over the age of 49.
  • Seventy percent of women between the ages of 18 and 49 see benefits from electing more women, compared to 57% of women over the age of 49.

There are also interesting differences on this topic by the political and ideological orientation of Americans:

  • Seventy-three percent of liberals say that more women in politics would be good for the country, compared with 45% of Conservatives.
  • Seventy percent of Democrats say that more women in politics would be beneficial, compared to 48% of Republicans.

American Opinion on Women in Politics Similar to That of Other Nations
Citizens around the world share the view that government would benefit from increasing the number of women in office. In 1995, Gallup asked people in 22 different countries whether government would improve by augmenting the number of women in government. Across all of these countries, more people agreed that their government would function better rather than worse if it added more women to the ranks. Americans come in at the higher "more women would be better" end of the spectrum. In the 1995 survey, 57% of Americans said electing more women would result in better government (little difference from Americans' responses in the most recent survey), compared to 50% of Canadians, 44% of the Japanese, 39% of Mexicans, and 30% of Spanish citizens. In no country surveyed did the majority of citizens think they would be worse off with more women in political office. Rather, in some cases, a plurality of respondents said they did not think adding more women would make a difference in the quality of government.

Almost All Americans Say They Would Vote for a Woman for President
Although neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party has ever nominated a woman for president, the American public overwhelmingly claims that the gender of a presidential candidate would make no difference. Ninety-two percent of Americans say they would vote for a woman if their party nominated one for the highest office. Men and women share this sentiment—91% of men and 93% of women say they would vote for a female candidate. Not surprisingly, public opinion on this question has changed considerably over the past century—just 33% of Americans said they would vote for a woman for president back in 1937 when Gallup first asked this question.

Despite the public's willingness to vote for a woman for president, a significant portion of the public (42%) think that a man would make a better president than would a woman. Thirty-one percent of those interviewed in a Gallup poll conducted in March 1999 say that, everything else being equal, a woman would make the better president, while 22% do not think the gender of the president would affect his or her performance. Women are much more likely than men to say that a woman would make a better president than a man—39% vs. 22%.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with randomly selected national samples of 1,026, 1,014 and 1,021 adults, 18 years and older, conducted Dec. 2-4, 2000, Feb. 19-21, 1999, and Mar. 5-7, 1999, respectively. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Do you think this country would be governed better or governed worse if more women were in political office?

 

 


Better


Worse

NO DIFFERENCE (vol.)

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

National Adults

       

2000 Dec 2-4

57

17

20

6

         

1999 Feb 4-8

57

14

23

6

1984 Jul 27-30

28

15

46

11

1975 Aug 15-18

33

18

38

11

         

Men

       

2000 Dec 2-4

50

20

25

5

         

1999 Feb 4-8

51

14

28

7

1984 Jul 27-30

24

15

48

13

1975 Aug 15-18

29

17

43

11

         

Women

       

2000 Dec 2-4

64

14

14

8

         

1999 Feb 4-8

62

14

19

5

1984 Jul 27-30

32

14

44

10

1975 Aug 15-18

36

20

34

10

         

(vol.)=Volunteered Response

       


Between now and the 2000 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates -- their education, age, religion, race, and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [INSERT A-H], would you vote for that person?
  Yes No No Opinion
F. A woman
  % % %
99 Feb 19-21 92 7 1
87 Jul 10-13 82 12 6
84 Jul 27-30 78 17 5
83 Apr 29-May 2 80 16 4
78 Jul 21-24 76 19 5
75 Aug 15-18 73 23 4
71 Jul 15-18 66 29 5
69 Mar 12-17 53 40 7
67 Apr 19-24 57 39 4
63 Aug 15-20 55 41 4
59 Dec 10-15 57 39 4
58 Sep 10-15 54 41 5
55 Feb 10-15 52 44 4
49 Sep 25-30 48 48 4
45 Nov 23-28 33 55 12
37 Jan 27-Feb 1 33 64 3

Everything else being equal, who do you think would make the better president [ROTATE 1-2]?

 

A man

A woman

Wouldn't matter

No opinion

1999 March 5-7

42%

31

22

5

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