Students Favor Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton among Potential Female Candidates in Nationwide Online Poll

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In a national poll conducted this spring by the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative, over 13,000 students representing schools in 45 states cast their ballot in the 8 for ’08 Youth Poll.

In a national poll conducted this spring by the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative, over 13,000 students representing schools in 45 states cast their ballot in the 8 for ’08 Youth Poll. Designed in partnership with The White House Project and intended to promote the viability of female politicians as presidential candidates, the poll presented students with eight potential female candidates from which to choose.

In the nationwide results, students gave the greatest support to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (39 percent), followed by New York Senator Hillary Clinton (31 percent). Other results included Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin (8 percent), Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (6 percent), Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (5 percent), Maine Senator Olympia Snowe (5 percent), Maine Senator Susan Collins (4 percent) and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (3 percent). In total, 13,176 kindergarten through twelfth-grade students from 618 schools across the United States and the District of Columbia participated in the poll. A breakdown of results by state is available at

These eight women—four Republicans and four Democrats—were identified by the White House Project as strong, capable politicians with the qualifications and credentials to run for president. Through the Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership initiative website, students and teachers could download lesson plans focusing on gender and the presidency, photographs and biographies of the 8 for ’08 candidates, as well as online and paper ballots for use in casting their votes. Polls were open in the 8 for ’08 Youth Poll from February 20 through March 10, 2006. “The 8 for ’08 Youth Poll was a unique opportunity for students to learn about some of the top female leaders in American politics today,” noted the Youth Leadership Initiative’s Director of Instruction, Lea Brown. “But beyond that, modern research has demonstrated that when students take part in political simulations—researching candidates, discussing issues, casting ballots—they are then more likely to participate in the actual process when they become eligible.”

The strong support for Rice and Clinton, as well as the distributed support for the other six potential candidates indicates that students across the country are familiar with a wide variety of women in office, and are open to the prospect of a woman as president in the near future. “Young women need to see role models in order to recognize that they too can grow up to be president of the United States,” said Holly Hatcher, Assistant Director of Programs at the UVA Center for Politics. “The 8 for '08 student poll highlights women as leaders, and we hope it will lead to a new generation of women in politics.”

The April 30 issue Parade Magazine will include an article about the White House project’s 8 for ’08 campaign that featured an online adult poll, as well as the youth poll hosted by the Youth Leadership Initiative. Candace McAdams, Director of Marketing and Communications for the White House Project noted that this vote can provide some valuable clues as to the pulse of the nation regarding women leaders over the next several years.

Full 8 for ’08 Youth Poll Results

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (R): 38.77%, 4,958 votes

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY): 30.71%, 3,927 votes

Mayor Shirley Franklin (D-Atlanta, GA): 7.73%, 988 votes

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX): 5.97%, 763 votes

Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS): 4.98%, 637 votes

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME): 4.53%, 579 votes

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME): 4.21%, 539 votes

Governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ): 3.10%, 397 votes

The 8 for ’08 Youth Poll is an academic exercise designed to educate students about the American political process. It is not a true random sample of public opinion among America's K-12 student population and is therefore not designed to be predictive of their behavior in an actual election.

About the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative

The Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) is the largest program at the University of Virginia center for Politics, a non-profit, non-partisan public service organization dedicated to increasing civic participation and improving civic education. The Youth Leadership Initiative provides free civics curriculum resources to public, private and home schools and all 50 states, the District of Columbia and many U.S. schools abroad. The 2004 YLI Mock Election was the largest secure, internet-based student mock election in the country.

About the White House Project

The White House Project, a national, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) organization, works to advance a richly diverse, critical mass of women into leadership positions, up to and including the U.S. Presidency.

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Matthew Smyth
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