Poll majority say they'd be likely to vote for Clinton
- Poll majority say they'd be likely to vote for Clinton
By Susan Page, USA TODAY
Fri May 27, 9:22 AM ET
For the first time, a majority of Americans say they are likely to
vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she runs for president in 2008,
according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through
The survey shows that the New York senator and former first lady has
broadened her support nationwide over the past two years, though she
still provokes powerful feelings from those who oppose her.
Clinton commands as much strong support - but more strong
opposition - as George W. Bush did in a Newsweek poll in November
1998, two years before the 2000 election. She is in slightly
stronger position than then-vice president Al Gore, the eventual
2000 Democratic nominee, was in 1998.
"Over time, Clinton fatigue has dissipated ... and people are
looking back on the Clinton years more favorably," says Andrew
Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew Research Center. In a Pew
poll released this month, Kohut called former president Bill Clinton
and the senator "comeback kids" because of their rising ratings.
"This may also reflect that she has been recasting her image as a
more moderate person," he says.
Spokesmen for Sen. Clinton declined to discuss the survey. "She's
just focused on working and doing her job for New York," says Anne
Lewis, a veteran Democratic operative working at Hillpac, Clinton's
political action committee.
Clinton has been leading the field of Democratic presidential
contenders for the 2008 election, still more than three years away.
She is running for a second Senate term next year and has dodged
questions about whether she'll make a White House bid.
In the poll, 29% were "very likely" to vote for Clinton for
president if she runs in 2008; 24% were "somewhat likely." Seven
percent were "not very likely" and 39% were "not at all likely" to
vote for her.
Her strong support has risen by 8 percentage points, and her strong
opposition has dropped by 5 points since the same question was asked
in June 2003.
In the new survey, more than seven in 10 Americans said they would
be likely to vote for an unspecified woman for president in 2008 if
she were running. One in five said they wouldn't be likely to vote
Karen White, political director of the liberal group Emily's List,
says the findings underscore growing acceptance of women as
candidates, even for president. "People realize that women reach
across party lines and are problem-solvers, and they want to see
more of that in public life," she says.
No woman has been nominated for national office by one of the two
major parties since Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale's running
mate in 1984.
Voters under 30 were by far the most likely to say they would
support a woman for president. More than half of them said they
were "very likely" to vote for a woman, compared with less than one-
third of those 50 and older.
Among those who were very or somewhat likely to vote for Clinton for
president, there were:
A big gender gap. Six of 10 women but 45% of men were likely to
Significant differences by age. Two of three voters under 30 were
likely to support her, compared with fewer than half of those 50 and
Strongest support from those with the lowest income. Sixty-three
percent of those with annual household incomes of $20,000 or less
were likely to support her, compared with 49% of those with incomes
of $75,000 or higher.
And big swings by ideology. An overwhelming 80% of liberals were
likely to support her, compared with 58% of moderates and 33% of
Among those surveyed, 54% called Clinton a liberal, 30% a moderate
and 9% a conservative.