As formal campaign nears, gender gap buoys Hillary Clinton

Clinton does no worse among men than a typical Democrat, but fares significantly better among women

As she prepares for a formal announcement of a run for the presidency, expected in the next few weeks, Hillary Clinton continues to benefit from the high degree of popularity she enjoys among other women.

The latest evidence of the long-standing gender gap in perceptions of Clinton comes from a Gallup poll released Friday.

By 56%-32%, women nationwide had a favorable view of Clinton, the poll found. Men, by contrast, split almost evenly, with 44% viewing her positively and 45% negatively.

The 12-point difference between the shares of men and women holding a favorable view of Clinton significantly exceeded the gender gap that is typical for Democratic politicians.

President Obama, for example, currently has a 4-point gap, with 49% of women and 45% of men approving of his job performance in Gallup's latest survey.

As the comparison with Obama indicates, Clinton so far is a net beneficiary of the gender gap -- she fares no worse among men than a typical Democrat, but does better among women.

Consider married women, for example, a group that often has sided with Republican candidates.

In the 2012 election, Obama lost to Mitt Romney among married women, 53%-46%. By contrast, at this point, Clinton receives favorable views among that group by 50%-39%.

Favorability now is not the same as votes in November 2016. Whether Clinton's edge among women will last once the campaign fully engages remains a key question mark for her.

Her backers expect that the possibility of electing the first woman to be president will stir enthusiasm for Clinton; opponents say they think she will alienate many men.

For now, however, the gender gap in views of Clinton extends through all major demographic and political groups. White women, for example, viewed her favorably by 50%-42% in the poll, while among white men, negative views were in the majority, 56%-37%.

Among Americans older than 50, a majority of women had a positive view of Clinton, while a majority of men saw her negatively. Among self-identified Republicans, only 19% of men viewed Clinton favorably, but 26% of women did.

Women college graduates, who are among the most Democratic-leaning of voter groups, viewed Clinton favorably by just short of 2-1.

But she also did well with women who lack a college degree, with a majority holding favorable views, 55%-32%. At both education levels, men split nearly evenly in their views of her, the poll found.

Clinton enjoyed significantly higher favorability ratings than any of the Republicans vying for their party's nomination, the poll found. Women split evenly, 32%-32%, between positive and negative views of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, for example.

That advantage over other potential candidates was not true at this stage of the 2008 campaign, Gallup analysts noted. In March 2007, 60% of women held a favorable view of Clinton, but John McCain, the eventual Republican nominee, was not far behind at 54%.

The Gallup survey was conducted March 2-4, among 1,522 American adults, using landlines and cellphones. It has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

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