The inaugural Meredith College Poll, which examined North Carolina voters’ views of women in politics, found the majority of North Carolinians believe men and women make equally good political leaders.
“The general picture for women seeking office is good,” said Visiting Professor of Political Science David McLennan, one of the directors of The Meredith College Poll. “The voters generally have no bias against women as political leaders and believe that women possess many attributes, such as the ability to compromise, that make them better as leaders.”
As shown in Meredith College’s recently released report, The Status of Women in North Carolina Politics, the issue is that men are four times more likely to declare themselves to be candidates. While women make up 54% of registered voters in North Carolina, they hold less than 24% of elected and appointed offices in the state. (See feature on pg. 18 for more on Meredith’s report on women in politics.)
Other questions explored by the poll include the leadership attributes of women and men, the political strengths of men and women leaders, and reasons why there are so few women in North Carolina political office.
Hillary Clinton and the 2016 Presidential Election
The Meredith College Poll, which was conducted in February 2015, also examined the prospects of Hillary Clinton as a potential presidential candidate. The poll found that Hillary Clinton may face difficulties winning over voters in North Carolina.
Given that North Carolina will continue to be a key state in presidential elections and that the margin of victory for the winning presidential candidate will be slim in the state, Clinton, should she be the Democratic nominee, has a difficult road ahead of her with voting groups that will be key to her victory. Clinton’s electoral victory will be heavily dependent on the women’s vote, but her support among large blocs of women voters is soft.
Of all voters surveyed, fully half (51%) said that they were either somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to vote for her, compared to only 41% who stated that they were somewhat likely to very likely to vote for her. Democrats had the greatest support for Clinton with 78% of respondents saying they were somewhat likely or very likely to vote for Clinton, as compared to 10% of Republicans and 38% of those registered as unaffiliated. Clinton’s potential candidacy garners support from about one-third of unaffiliated voters in the state, a real problem for a Democrat hoping to repeat Barack Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina.
The Meredith Poll and The Status of Women in North Carolina Politics report are part of Meredith College’s effort to be recognized as a leading source for research and information on women and girls in the state.
Learn more about The Meredith Poll and other research at meredith.edu/college-research.