NH Study Finds Female Candidates Less Likeable Among Voters

  • Research shows a candidate needs to be liked to be elected into office by a voter.
  • Voters are more likely to vote for a male candidate that they don’t like than a female candidate.
  • While these women are just as qualified as their male opponents, there is a disconnect in how the public perceives them.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- When it comes to their ideas for the United States, both Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senator Kamala Harris of California draw in big numbers at the polls. However, a survey done in New Hampshire found that both women lacked the likeability of the voters. When it came to the favorability of a candidate, Warren received a 67% with a small 5% in likeability while Harris received a 54% and only 5% found her to be likable.

“It comes down to maybe internalized sexism for people,” said Amanda Hunter, research and communications director for the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. “A lot of voters have a stereotype for how women should act.”

Likeability on its own varies from one voter to the next so it’s quite subjective. The only thing that is known to be true is that a voter wants to like the person that they see put in the oval office. Research done by the Barabara Lee Family Foundation found 90% of female voters and 84% of male voters see liking a candidate as the main factor when it comes to their finals decisions. If a woman wants to become President of the United States, she must be liked.

What Does This Mean For The Democratic Election?

When it came to which candidates were most liked, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont were the most likable, each being given 20%. Following them with 18% was South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“I can’t explain how Bernie Sanders is the most likable one,” said Andy Smith, a UNH professor that oversaw the poll. “Joe Biden has always been ‘slap him on the back.’ Buttigieg has emphasized likability if you read about his candidacy and his campaign, that is emphasized.”

While the favorable numbers of male candidates may be less than that of Warren and Harris, their likeability numbers are what put them above their female opponents. Biden is favored by 57% with 20% likeability, Sanders is favored by 67% with 20% likeability, and Buttigieg is favored by 48% with 18% likeability.

Male candidates are likable due to the fact that the public could imagine themselves hanging out with these men as buddies based on how they portray themselves to the world. Voters would like to see female candidates be strong in their views but also feminine. If the women softened themselves in the public eye it could help their likeability numbers. Rather than strictly discuss policies, people would like to see them as friendly and approachable.

“I can’t recall reading in a newspaper article how likable Elizabeth Warren is,” said Smith. “I don’t think she’s ever run as a warm and fuzzy candidate.”

Currently, Sen. Kamala Harris has +225 election odds of winning a spot on the Presidential ballot while Sen. Elizabeth Warren has +450 odds. The Second Democratic Primary Debate will be a two-night event, July 30th and July 31st at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. The debates begin at 8:00 pm ET on both nights and will be televised by the CNN network.

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