Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photo by Reuters/ Gary Cameron.
The timing couldn’t have been any better.
The progressive women’s group EMILY’s List unveiled its ‘Madam President’ campaign Thursday to elect the first female President of the United States in 2016, the same morning a new poll found former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic Party’s nomination in three years.
And Clinton’s name was clearly on the minds of many in attendance at the National Press Club, including EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock.
“I have to say, there is one name that seems to be getting mentioned more than others,” Schriock said. “We do not know if Hillary is going to run, but we are hopeful that she may.”
If Clinton decides to pass on a second bid for the White House, Schriock said Democrats are blessed with “a deep bench” of potential women candidates, naming examples such as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
The ‘Madam President’ campaign includes a six-figure digital advertising buy to target women voters online as well as outreach events in the critical primary states of Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire.
EMILY’s List also released a poll of likely voters in nine battleground states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin) that found 86 percent of them believe the country is ready to elect a woman president and 72 percent say it will likely happen in 2016.
“It’s like they were saying, ‘duh,'” pollster Lisa Grove of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research remarked.
Grove’s colleague, Jeffrey Liszt, also noted that a woman candidate has the potential to spark greater interest in the election. Nearly half (49 percent) of voters said they would be more likely to follow the campaign if there was a woman in the race.
How much of that is driven by the prospect of a Clinton candidacy remains to be seen.
From her perspective, Schriock says the same enthusiasm for a woman candidate would still apply, even if Clinton was not part of the equation. Voters are “looking for a skill set” and not a specific candidate, according to Schriock.
Clinton received the support of 65 percent of respondents in a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday that put her up against Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in a hypothetical Democratic primary.
Schriock challenged polling organizations to test other women candidates besides Clinton in future surveys. “Because this is a wide open race if Secretary Clinton doesn’t decide to do this,” Schriock said.