"What in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?" Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., asked rhetorically through a smile back in January.
Clinton played coy during that Iowa news conference, never clarifying which "men" she was referring to, but the numbers reveal that the men in her party are behind her White House ambitions in ever-strengthening numbers.
An ABC/Washington Post poll released Oct. 3 shows that 48 percent of Democratic men — a rise from 29 percent at the beginning of September — support her presidential bid.
When Clinton announced her candidacy in January, she used the slogan "Let the Conversation Begin…" "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart quipped that it might give her trouble with male voters.
"Look, this might not be the most politically correct thing to say, but that might not help you with men," Stewart said. "I think the typical response would be, 'Now?'"
Clinton embraces her status as the only woman candidate in the presidential race. "What else would I run as?" Clinton has said on the campaign trail. The numbers show that her candidacy and front-runner status haven't scared off the men of her party.
But her surge in popularity among Democratic men raises the question: Why now?
Mark Halperin, ABC News political analyst and editor-at-large for Time Magazine, suggests that her gender doesn't matter.
"Men shopping for a Democratic presidential candidate are looking for someone tough, someone smart and someone who can get the White House back from the Republicans," Halperin said. "Hillary Clinton right now looks the strongest on those fronts. The fact that she is a she does not seem to matter much for many men."
Democratic strategist Donna Brazile says Clinton "keeps looking more and more presidential."
"Mrs. Clinton, gently but affirmatively, appears to be pulling away from the pack, both by style and substance," Brazile adds. "The New Hampshire numbers look to me like the national numbers -- a double-digit lead over the closest current rival. Presumably, we'll start to see a TV spend soon, and that could help her pour it on and build even broader support among these groups"
Male voters surveyed in the ABCNews/Washington Post poll supporting Clinton cited her experience.
"This country was rocking and rolling when the Clintons were in office," said Walter Cheadle, a 64-year-old independent. "I consider her a very intelligent woman. She was in the White House for eight years with her husband and she has all that experience."
"I think she's the best choice," said Buddy Milstead, a 70-year-old retired independent voter from Rustin, La.
Though gaining among Democratic men and independents in the polls, Clinton has by no means locked down the male vote. An ABC News/Washington Post poll comparing Clinton's candidacy with that of GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani revealed the former New York mayor with a 3 percentage point advantage — 48 percent to 45 percent, respectively.
Exit polling data reveals the significance of male voters at the ballot box come Election Day. In 2004, men made up 36 percent of the voting population. Nominees from both parties will need to court male voters as part of their Election Day strategy.