By jessie kornberg • May 18, 2008•Politics and Government
Kate Zernicki makes some predictions about who, after Senator Clinton, will be the next serious female contender for the Presidency:
That woman will come from the South, or west of the Mississippi. She will be a Democrat who has won in a red state, or a Republican who has emerged from the private sector to run for governor. She will have executive experience, and have served in a job like attorney general, where she will have proven herself to be “a fighter” (a caring one, of course).
She will be young enough to qualify as postfeminist (in the way Senator Barak Obama has come off as postracial), unencumbered by the battles of the past. She will be married with children, but not young children. She will be emphasizing her experience, and wearing, yes, pantsuits.
Zernicki is fairly optomistic about our chances of finding such a candidate:
Certainly, the numbers make it possible. Women make up a quarter of state legislatures and statewide elective executive offices, and 16 percent of the House of Representatives. Eight governors and a record 16 senators are women.
And polls suggest that the country is ready to elect a woman — if not as ready as many people might expect. In December, a Gallup poll found that 86 percent of Americans said they would vote for a well-qualified candidate who was a woman (of course, that percentage has been in the 80s for much of the last three decades). Ninety-three percent said the same of a well-qualified candidate who was black; 93 percent of a Catholic candidate; and 91 percent of a Jewish one.
Others paint a less rosy picture:
“Who would dare to run?” said Karen O’Connor, the director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University. “The media is set up against you, and if you have the money problem to begin with, why would anyone put their families through this, why would anyone put themselves through this?”
For this reason, she said, she doesn’t expect a serious contender anytime soon. “I think it’s going to be generations.”
I don't think either of these viewpoints considers the rapidly changing demographics of the voters. If a democrat is elected president in 5 months, I suspect immigration reform will change electoral math in the west, if not the entire country, especially for racial minorities and women. Senator Clinton has been able to attract significant support from Latino voters, but that's not in keeping with traditional voting models.
Whatever you think about Senator Clinton's successes and failures, their impact on those who seek to follow in her footsteps, and the chances of any other woman getting this close to the presidency - check out the article's accompanying graphic. The author thinks there's fertile breeding ground in state legislatures; I think there's a lot of men.