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Poll: 'Commander in Chief' Paves Way for Female President
May 8, 2006

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Geena Davis recently received an award for her portrayal of a female president.

The event at which Davis was honored was held at the United Nations, an organization that seems to be becoming more Hollywood-ized by the minute.

The prize was given out by The White House Project, a nonprofit organization that works to promote women's voting, political participation and leadership.

But interestingly, there's another goal The White House Project has, and that is to get a woman elected president.

"So many countries have had a female head of state before us," Davis told the hundreds of predominantly female guests who were in attendance, "so it is certainly time."

Two recent polls are relevant to the TV show and the head-of-state issue.

The first caused ABC to yank Davis' show from the prime-time lineup. The program placed 64th in the Nielsen Media Research rankings. Another recent national survey bolsters one of the theories that I propose in my book "Hollywood Nation" and confirms the suspicions of many conservatives – that the series could have an impact on the real-life political landscape.

The survey was conducted by the Kaplan Thaler Group, which helped introduce to the public the Aflac duck, the Toys R Us song and the Herbal Essences/orgasmic experience comparison.

The survey was taken from a sample consisting of over 1,000 American adults (519 women and 503 men, divided equally between Democrats and Republicans).

The results of the Kaplan Thaler poll indicate that, of the 76 percent of Americans familiar with "Commander in Chief," 58 percent are now more likely to take seriously the idea of a female presidential candidate.

Sixty-nine percent of TV viewers aged 35 to 44 were shown to be most likely to take seriously the idea, followed by Baby Boomers aged 45 to 54 (58 percent). On a similar note, women appear to be more receptive to a female leader than males (65 percent compared with 49 percent).

The most unusual outcome of the survey related to a female candidate's physical appearance, as noted in a written statement by the Kaplan Thayer Group.

"When asked if it is important for a female Presidential candidate to be attractive and slim when compared to a male candidate, an overwhelming 60% of men vowed that it isn't important at all. But their female counterparts don't agree. In fact, when it comes to the importance of beauty, women straddle the fence – 49% agree with the men that being attractive and slim is not at all important while 40% admit that looks do matter at least somewhat when comparing a female candidate to a male."

The poll showed that people have the lowest expectations for a female candidate in the foreign policy arena and the most confidence in a female president when it comes to soundly handling the nation's education and health care. Going against stereotypes, Southerners were the most receptive to a female presidential contender (62 percent). The Northeast, West and North followed closely with 59 percent, 55 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

I expect that shortly the Hillary Clinton campaign will be dropping copies of the poll from aircraft flying over Iowa and New Hampshire.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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