Recently, a lot of Democrats seem to be asking if the country is ready to elect a woman president. The answer is an unequivocal “Yes.” However, voters aren’t ready to elect a woman just because she’s a woman. They’re looking for a candidate whose message reflects their hopes and alleviates their fears regardless of whether that person is a man or woman.
As Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report tweeted last week, “Dems at risk of learning absolute wrong lesson from 2016. The prospect of being the first female president is a general election *asset.* The worst *liability* you can have: an image as a political insider/elite.” In other words, Hillary didn’t lose because she was a woman. She lost because she was a Clinton.
As Wasserman says in his thread, the energy in 2018 was with women running against Trump. They overperformed their polling and they won in record numbers. There’s no reason to believe that voters, especially ones leaning a little left, would reject a woman because of her gender. In fact, a woman candidate offers the starkest contrast to the president.
That said, the nominee needs to have a message that resonates, regardless of whether Democrats choose a man or a woman. Right now, people want some stability and an end to the crises, both real and imagined, that play out on cable news and social media every day. They’re not looking to give up their private insurance for the uncertainty of a new government-based program. They’re not going to vote for a candidate who runs on breaking up Big Tech or Big Banks because they don’t even understand what that really means. Most don’t believe in free college because they don’t believe it will be free.
All of that could change if the economy tanks, but right now, people are feeling pretty good about their economic situations for the first time in more than a decade. Unemployment is at 3.7%. Wages are finally going up. Consumer confident is as high as it’s been in decades. These measures are Trump’s advantage. According to a Quinnipiac Poll in May, 71% of people think the economy is good or excellent. Running against the economy is loser as long the trend continues.
Instead, the candidates running should be running against the new status quo—Trump and his clown car of an administration. They should be running against kids in cages, but not for open borders. They should be offering voters something tangible, like expanded access to health care and a higher minimum wage, but not programs that sound more disruptive than the current president. There’s an exhaustion with the political polarization as well as Trump’s divisive rhetoric.
Sure, a woman could win the presidency and one with the right message probably has an advantage over a man. The energy in the Democratic Party is certainly more female than male today. But for a woman to win the nomination and beat Trump, she needs to inspire confidence and offer stability, not promise another decade of upheaval.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >