Hillary 2012?

You may want to dig out those old 'Clinton for president' buttons

November 28, 2011|Susan Reimer

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has famously declared that she wants her next job title to be "grandmother."

But a Harris Poll indicates that Mrs. Clinton is just about the only politician with a job approval rating above sea level.

And a second survey suggests that American moms — remember the role of the soccer mom in 1996? — would rather vote for her for president than Barack Obama or any of the Republican candidates.

It might be time to change the date on those "Hillary 2008" buttons.

The Harris Poll of 2,463 men and women surveyed online in October showed that only Mrs. Clinton, and, oddly, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, had positive ratings. Mrs. Clinton's job approval rating was 52 percent. (More Americans gave Mr. Panetta positive ratings than negative — 20 percent versus 17 percent — but 64 percent said they weren't familiar enough with him to make a judgment.)

Other politicians, as well as both political parties, got abysmal approval ratings and high negative ratings: Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Even Vice President Joe Biden was not spared. Almost half of those surveyed (46 percent) gave him negative ratings.

And it is a race to the bottom for the two political parties. More than half of those surveyed have a negative opinion of both Republicans in Congress (53 percent) and Democrats in Congress (54 percent).

The explanation for Mrs. Clinton's popularity, the Harris people theorize, is that secretaries of state are not involved in domestic matters and generally aren't blamed for trouble at home.

This makes the survey results from CafeMom, a social network website with more than 9 million monthly unique visitors, all the more intriguing.

The women surveyed — not CaféMom members, but a national sample representative of them — said they would rather vote for Mrs. Clinton than Mr. Obama, and none of the Republican candidates even registered with this group.

Most important, the women surveyed are looking for someone "to get things done across party lines," according to CafeMom. And if Mrs. Clinton were a candidate for president, she would get a whopping 58 percent of the mom vote, compared with 42 percent for President Obama.

"It seems like everybody wants an option of 'none of the above,' said Tracy Odell, executive vice president for CafeMom.

"Women are frustrated with what is going on in Washington, and we want another option. Hillary has carried herself very well over the last three years. She seems a better choice than what we have.

"The survey results were not a surprise to us," said Ms. Odell, herself a mother of two young boys.

"We have this huge community of moms that we have been listening to for five years, and we have seen this feeling of dismay and this feeling that nobody is listening to them. "The survey just backed that up."

The results prompted CafeMom to begin a Moms Matter 2012 campaign. "We want to be a megaphone for what matters to moms, to make sure they are heard," said Ms. Odell.

If you want something done, the saying goes, give it to a busy woman to do, and I am guessing that is part of what is at work here.

These women, who also report that they are more worried about their family's financial future than they are about the well-being of their children, are looking for someone to fix things.

Mrs. Clinton is seen as multi-tasking dynamo who is keeping about a dozen international hot plates spinning at once. When compared to the stubborn and dithering men in Congress, she shines.

"A third of the moms were undecided," said Ms. Odell. "That's a huge voting block just waiting for someone to come out and say something."

Susan Reimer's column appears Mondays. Her email is susan.reimer@baltsun.com.

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