Sen. Hillary Clinton's national lead surged last week in both Post-ABC and AP polling, solidifying her position as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. Her sizable advantage raises the prospect of a woman's heading a major party presidential ticket for the first time. Is the potential to make history having an effect on the race?
According to the latest Post-ABC poll, Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination has attracted broad support from women, and nearly a third of women who favor her for the Democratic nomination say the possibility that she would be the first female president is a factor in their support.
Overall, 57 percent of all women say they'd vote for Clinton if their state's primary or caucus were held now, 15 percent would support Barack Obama, 13 percent John Edwards. And 31 percent of women who back Clinton say the chance to vote for a first female president is factor in their support. Eleven percent call it a "major" reason for their vote preference, 18 percent say it is a "minor" reason. Among single women, 38 percent say the historic possibilities of Clinton's candidacy factor into their support.
However, Clinton's female support is driven by more than just history. Female Democrats are more likely than Democratic men to say Clinton is the strongest leader of the three leading Democrats (66 percent compared to 53 percent), is the most honest and trustworthy (39 percent to 30 percent), is best able to reduce partisanship in Washington (46 percent to 36 percent), is most inspiring (48 percent to 31 percent) and best reflects the core values of the Democratic Party (53 percent to 45 percent).
But there is no gender gap on what has been Clinton's strongest argument for the nomination to date: among both sexes, about six in 10 say she has the best chance of getting elected in November 2008.
Her support among women carries over to the general election. In a match-up with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, she leads 57 to 39 among women. Among self-identified feminists - both male and female - she holds a whopping 64 to 30 lead over Giuliani.
Full data and question wording from the Post-ABC poll can be found here.