It’s no secret that I am an active Democrat and long-time supporter of Hillary, and Bernard is too. We wrote this book not only in support of Hillary’s candidacy, but because we both felt there was a need to set the record straight and give voters the facts about who Hillary is—both as a public servant and as a person. After Hillary announced her candidacy, Bernard and I were struck by the media narrative that framed Hillary as an elusive enigma, someone that has occupied the political spotlight for decades, yet is in many ways “unknown.” We know from our experience working on campaigns as strategists that voters need to be able to relate to a candidate and feel that the candidate is in touch with voters’ concerns in order for the candidate to be successful. That is why we decided to write this book—to re-introduce Hillary to voters and show the many sides of Hillary, not only as a politician, but as a daughter, wife, mother, and now, grandmother.
We’re also concerned about the rise of extremists in the Republican Party and know that a Donald Trump presidency would be disastrous for this country. We wrote this book also to contrast Hillary’s vision for America with that of the Republicans, and argue that while Hillary wants to build the America of tomorrow, Trump and the Republicans want to bring our country backwards to the past. Like Hillary, we believe that America has always been great, but that the task of the next president of the United States is to make America whole. Trump’s divisive, hateful rhetoric will only fragment us further. What we need now is a leader who can bring people together and get things done for American families. We believe that leader, resoundingly, is Hillary.
I will be posting more news and tidbits from the book as we get closer to the official release date in early July. Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog (just scroll down to the bottom of this page and enter in your e-mail) so you’ll never miss an update about the book or anything I write about here!
For those who care about women’s representation in elected office, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is a big deal. Our country has never been this close to electing a woman president, and the odds that she will triumph over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz are high.
Electing a woman president is truly a game-changer. As I have written elsewhere, one of the most powerful effects of a visible woman head of state is the role model effect it will have on women and girls’ ambitions. Seeing a woman occupy the highest position of power in America will do much to our collective psyche and expectations about gender and leadership.
But although electing a woman president would have resounding effects on women’s ambitions, it is not enough to fix the problem of women’s under-representation in elected office. The rate of women’s representation has stagnated at every level of public office; we will not simply see more women elected to public office “in time,” or at least, not in our lifetimes, without changing the political systems and structures themselves.
The impact of gender stereotypes, media bias, childcare responsibilities, and other obstacles women candidates face notwithstanding, on average, when women run for office, they win. That is—once they knock down the barriers that keep women from running in the first place, they tend to be just as successful as men. The real problem is that our current political institutions do not create enough opportunities for women to run, win, and serve.
New people tend to get elected when there is an open seat—when the elected officeholder retires or steps down, leaving the seat “open” to contest. Otherwise, the incumbency advantage is often insurmountable for a challenger, unless the incumbent is vulnerable for some reason. In congressional elections, the re-election rate for incumbents is about 95%. As volatile as the political world may seem, members of Congress enjoy a great deal of job security. And because the vast majority of incumbents are men, the effect of this advantage is that the status quo gets perpetuated over and over—with the same men winning their elections, and fewer women being able to break into the political world.
In elections for the U.S. Congress, candidates run in single-member, winner-take-all districts, meaning only the winner—the candidate who gets the most votes—gets elected. But some state legislatures have multi-member districts, which means more than one candidate gets elected to serve a district. In many districts, one party dominates elections over and over, which leaves voters belonging to the opposing party completely unrepresented. In multi-member districts, members get elected according to their party’s vote share—for example, if one district has four seats, and 50% of the vote is for the Democrats and 50% for Republicans, two Democrats get elected and two Republicans get seats too. This scenario also allows for the emergence of third-party candidates, who actually have a chance of getting elected as well.
Multi-member districts create more opportunities for non-incumbents and non-traditional candidates to run for office and win election. Ten states in America currently use multi-member districts in at least one legislative chamber, and these states rank among the highest for women’s representation among state legislatures. Multi-member districts will also help reduce the advantages incumbents enjoy, and create more spaces for not only women, but people of color and third-party candidates, to get elected.
Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has already done much to inspire legions of women and encourage them to run for office. The path she has forged will certainly make it easier for other women to run and win their elections. But as important as her candidacy is to increasing women’s representation, it is not enough, and those of us committed to advancing women’s leadership need to look ahead to the real changes that need to be made in order to achieve gender parity. We need to begin a serious discussion about institutional reform to create more opportunities for women to run and win seats so that the possibility of parity in our lifetimes can be realized.
1. She wins the Democratic nomination handily: Clinton beats Sanders by a whopping 23 points (45 percent vs. 22 percent) and Biden by 27 points. For all the talk of Sanders’ surge and Biden’s popularity, Democratic voters overwhelmingly favor Clinton as their nominee.
2. She beats the Republicans: Clinton tops Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump in head-to-head match-ups. Curiously, this result didn’t even make it into Quinnipiac’s press release narrative.
3. She wins demographic groups that are key to success in 2016: Journalists have made much of Biden’s lead among Republican contenders, but a closer look at the data reveals that among key demographic groups that historically have decided elections, Clinton does better. This is especially true compared to Sanders, whose limited appeal to college-educated white men has been well-documented. For example, against Bush, Clinton claims 92 percent of the vote among African Americans, and 55 percent among Latinos. Biden only gets 84 percent of the African American vote, Sanders gets 79 percent. Less than half (49 percent) of Latinos prefer Sanders over Bush, a margin that would seriously hurt the Democrats’ chance of winning the White House. Clinton also outperforms among younger voters compared to Biden and Sanders.
4. Everyone’s favorability ratings are suffering: Clinton isn’t the only one with net negative favorability scores–voters also have negative impressions of both Bush and Trump. Clinton is also more liked among members of her Party (76 percent of Democrats give her a positive rating) than Bush and Trump among Republicans (59 percent favorable).
5. She is seen as a stronger leader than both Sanders and Biden: Lost in the buzz about her trustworthiness scores is an arguably even more important score–leadership qualities. A majority of voters (57 percent) say Clinton has strong leadership qualities compared to 35 percent who say the same about Sanders and 46 percent about Biden. The Clinton campaign still has time to improve Clinton’s image when it comes to perceptions of honesty, but leadership qualities and experience are different–either you have them or you don’t. Biden and Sanders aren’t going to be able to fake the impressive resume and qualifications that Clinton has. This may be why that although the media has emphasized the negative words voters associate with Clinton, words like “experience” and “strong” top the list too.
As political consultant Peter D. Rosenstein said of this poll and others: “Any candidate seeing numbers like Hillary has in those polls would be opening champagne and their opponents would be figuring out what they are doing wrong.” So why, then, does the media report otherwise?
I’m not the first to notice the media’s biased, even sometimes downright inaccurate coverage of Hillary Clinton. Journalists seem almost gleeful in their framing of Clinton’s “fall.” And I would be remiss not to mention how the idea of women like Hillary Clinton, who unabashedly seek power, make people uncomfortable, and sometimes angry.
The media’s power to set the agenda and frame issues is a powerful one, because it influences the public’s attitudes and political choices. Journalists have a choice in what they cover and how they cover it, and in this instance, many chose to focus on Clinton’s vulnerability. But as now should be clear, that’s not the whole story, and effectively this kind of journalism disservices the public. We rely on the news media for political information, and while in any process conducted by human beings, some level of bias is inevitable, the coverage of Clinton is more than just biased, it’s downright irresponsible.