The Week in Politics

A New York Times/CBS News poll finds there is still a significant gender gap in presidential politics, with women viewing Sen. Hillary Clinton much more favorably than men do.

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DEBORAH AMOS, host:

When it comes to presidential politics, there is still a significant gender gap. That from a New York Times/CBS News Poll. A majority of all voters, Democrats and Republicans, think Hillary Clinton can win the White House. But the survey also showed that women view her much more favorably than men. There are some surprises.

NPR's news analyst Juan Williams joins us now from Washington for his weekly political check. Welcome back, Juan.

JUAN WILLIAMS: Good day, Deborah.

AMOS: The gender gap has pretty much disappeared in all other races. Women candidates do as well as men. So do you think what we're seeing in this poll is because this is a presidential race or because it's Hillary Clinton?

WILLIAMS: Well, it's sort of a layered, you know, dynamic, Deborah, because what you have is a situation where - they have never had a woman at the front of the pack for a presidential nomination. And there's a likelihood - it's interesting, if you ask people is it likely that she will win the presidency - 65 percent of women said yes, but only 59 percent of men.

So there's a little bit of a gap there. But the key idea, I think, is that people think it's very likely. You see even over 50 percent of men saying it's likely she's going to win in November of 2008. So once you put that in place, then you also have to deal with the idea that it's Hillary Clinton and all the baggage that comes with Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and all of those kinds of issues.

But it's interesting, I think picking up on what you said about this gender gap, if you look down the numbers in the CBS/New York Times poll, you see that, for example, the question, is it likely that Hillary Clinton would make good decisions about health care, there's a 13 percent gender gap, with 80 percent of women saying yes, as compared to 67 percent of women.

When it comes to more military international affairs like, would she be an effective commander-in-chief, 63 percent of women compared to 52 percent of women. So it's an 11 percent gap.

AMOS: And there's something else interesting in the way that those numbers play out on - with women, because this poll was a bit weighted on that side, and that is she doesn't poll well with more affluent, well-educated women. Why is that?

WILLIAMS: You know, it's fascinating. I was talking with some people in the leadership of the Clinton campaign yesterday and they were picking up on this idea. And they think it's psychodrama, that upper-income, affluent white suburban women see Hillary Clinton in themselves and they see themselves in Hillary Clinton.

So they make all kinds of judgments about how Hillary has behaved in relationship to her husband, in relationship to raising Chelsea, her child, in relationship to deciding she's going to run for the Senate herself. They have all of these questions sort of jangled up in their minds, while lower-income women see Hillary Clinton as likely to deliver on the promise of better health care, child care, more sensitive to their need for job security.

AMOS: And while we're talking about polls, the National Polls haven't changed much. But there's an interesting shift in the state polls, and that's in New Hampshire. Bill Richardson has moved into third place among the Democrats. How did he make that boost?

WILLIAMS: Well, largely on a basis of more advertising, raising his profile in the state, emphasizing that he has experience, he has probably the best resume of any of the Democratic contenders, maybe, you know, comparable of, maybe Hillary Clinton could compare, but nobody else.

He's been, of course, a congressman, a governor, ambassador, and cabinet secretary. And he's been raising money out West very effectively. In fact, he's now in very good position in states like Nevada, California, of course his home state New Mexico, and used that money to raise a profile in New Hampshire, which has boosted him in the polls.

AMOS: Well, let's talk about the Republicans quickly, and the most interesting thing is Fred Thompson is number two, a man who hasn't even said he's going to run.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I think maybe I'd argue with you, Deb. I think it's really interesting that Rudy Giuliani remains number one. He's been losing support. He's down to about 21 percent in an AP poll that was out this week. He was at 35 percent in March.

Thompson at 19, McCain at 15, who has been imploding, as you know. So it's interesting, the Republicans don't have a candidate and they're waiting for Fred Thompson, as you say, Thompson in second place without having announced.

AMOS: Thanks very much. NPR's news analyst Juan Williams speaking to us from Washington.

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