THE BLOG

2016: Another Year of the Woman?

12/07/2012 07:26 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2013

The final entry for my "Blog Blog Project" this semester comes from Alec Nathan, a junior Communication major. As part of this project, students in my fall semester Politics and Technology class at the University of Delaware have been writing blogs on issues surrounding campaigns. A recent class examined the role of women in politics, which sparked this blog.

We're now a month removed from the contentious presidential election, and -- with a ballot-shaped void in the hearts of many a pundit -- the media have found ways to speculate about who our country's next presidential nominees will be.

Think it's too early to begin discussing who will run for the highest office in the land in 2016? It's not. With Hillary Clinton slated to step down from her office as President Obama's Secretary of State, speculation is running rampant that the former First Lady will be gearing up for a run for the Oval Office in 2016. And a recent poll shows Democrats are highly supportive of the prospect.

As we saw throughout this last election cycle, women were a primary focus of both campaigns, primarily because they were seen as a voting bloc that could swing the election. Having connected with millions of women in the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton's run would be monumental not only in a historical context, but in a demographic one as well.

In 1992, a record number of women were elected to the U.S. Congress. Our textbook noted that in nearly every election cycle, the same question emerges: "Will this be the Year of the Woman, Again?" For many, the answer was yes in the 2012 election -- in the 113th Congress, we will see a historic number of female senators.

But will a true "Year of the Woman" require a woman to win the White House? Although it's a long way off, Hillary Clinton could potentially ride the Democratic wave of prosperity to the White House in 2016. As Peter Rosenstein notes, Clinton has plenty working in her favor: "There is no role that Hillary has undertaken at which she hasn't excelled. Not everyone agrees with everything she has done or every position she has taken. But even those who don't always agree with all she says or does don't dispute her intelligence, her abilities and her passion."

We also saw young people turn out in record numbers in 2012. How will they react to a female candidate for the presidency? Not only was the gender gap in support for Obama the largest in Gallup's history, but young people are also more supportive of having a female president than Americans over 65 years old: 96 percent versus 89 percent. Gallup's report is even more stunning when you see that in 1937, the first time they asked the question about a female candidate for president, only 33 percent of Americans said they would vote for a woman.

We are facing a very different political landscape in the race for 2016. But if Hillary Clinton's run for the White House is as real as many pundits think it is, then she will be under an incredibly intense microscope. As we saw in 2012, gaffes and slip-ups dominate the conversation not only in the media but also on social networking sites. It will be interesting to see if Clinton's gender will have anything to do with how she's treated by both television and online media.

In 2008, Clinton ended her candidacy by stating that she and her supporters had not yet broken the glass ceiling, but they had put 18 million cracks in it. Eight years later, if Clinton does decide to run, we just might see the "Year of the Woman President."