'Subtle Sexism?': Examining Vote Preferences When Women Run Against Men for the Presidency


Paul, David and Jessi L. Smith. 2008. “’Subtle Sexism?’: Examining Vote Preferences When Women Run Against Men for the Presidency.” Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy 29 (4): 451-476. 

Authors: David Paul, Jessi L. Smith


This article examines the influence of the gender of presidential candidates on perceptions of candidate qualifications and vote choice through polling data of likely Ohio voters using five candidates: Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain. In its examination, this study better mirrors the real‐world presidential selection process than other studies which use hypothetical or generic candidates. We found that women presidential candidates were viewed as significantly less qualified to be president when compared to male candidates with similar credentials. Although results showed that Democratic women candidates were not at a disadvantage in hypothetical primary nominee match‐ups, evidence of gender bias appeared in general election match‐ups. Candidates who were men beat the women candidates in every general election match‐up, and what is more, voters frequently switched their votes to the candidate who was a man when the opposition candidate was a woman. Implications for women running for president are discussed.

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Elections, Political Participation Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2008

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.