Lifetime Poll Pinpoints Negative Media Coverage of Clinton & Palin

In their sixth poll since November 2007, Lifetime’s Everywoman Counts campaign assessed what women were thinking, post-election. Their latest survey had partners WomanTrend and Lake Research conducting a nationwide telephone poll of 600 women. The live interviews took place from November 21-24, with sampling controls to ensure proportional demographics reflecting race, age, and region. The focus was on “women’s reaction to the presidential election and it’s impact on the future of female political leadership.”

Zoning in on what women felt should be the primary issue for the incoming Obama administration in the first one hundred days, it should be no surprise that 71 percent of women pointed to the economy. 51 percent of those responding said they had been directly affected by the economic “downturn.” Almost one-third of retirees and at-home Moms (31 percent) acknowledged that they might need to go back to work to cover household expenses. A major apprehension was the possibility of losing retirement savings as a result of the financial crisis.

Proving that capabilities superseded gender when it came to the selection of who should be in Obama’s cabinet, 67 percent of women said Obama should focus “just on qualifications.” Regarding the nomination of Hillary Clinton to the post of Secretary of State, 51 percent “definitely” supported her, with 20 percent at a “somewhat” stance. It was clear to 65 percent of women – across the political spectrum – that male and female candidates were held to “different standards on the campaign trail.” 79 percent felt it was easier for a male candidate to be taken seriously by the voters, and 71 percent believed that the media covered male candidates more seriously. When addressing specifics such as national security and terrorism, 70 percent of women gave men the edge.

Regardless of party affiliation, women saw the coverage of both Clinton and Palin as “too negative” and without adequate substance. 70 percent of women found that too much reporting was devoted to Palin’s wardrobe, and 44 percent had the same complaint in regard to Clinton. However, despite these perceptions, in a margin of more than 12-to-1, women believed the 2008 election was “a step forward” toward the future election of a female Commander-in-Chief. The candidacies of Clinton and Palin led 93 percent of women to think more women would be encouraged to run for office.

When the topic switched to the “preferred role” women would like to see Michelle Obama take in the White House, 49 percent wanted to see her tackle a few issues (33 percent suggested an education agenda; 22 percent pointed to work/life balance). Devoting herself to the responsibilities of wife and mother was the preference of 38 percent. The majority of Republican women (53 percent) favored Michelle Obama prioritizing her duties as wife and mother compared to 41 percent of Independent voters and 25 percent of Democratic women.

During the telephone conference call, there was a discussion of the negative verbiage used to describe both Clinton and Palin. In what could be characterized as two extremes, Clinton was labeled as “anti-male and a she-devil,” while Palin was assigned the role of “a ditz and an airhead.”

When Kellyanne Conway of WomanTrend was questioned about the response to Palin, she asked, “Why wasn’t she [Palin] charged with a platform to discuss? Why was she given the Bill Ayers agenda?” Her advice to Palin was to “reintroduce herself on her own terms.” Conway added, “She also needs not to do this now. She should wait, plan, and get re-elected in 2010.”

In the historic and exhaustively covered 2008 election, this poll showed there was one factor that a majority of American women concurred on. They weren’t satisfied with the way either female candidate was covered.

This article originally appeared at the  Fem 2.0 website.

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