Hillary Clinton's Man Appeal

"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.

Explaining Clinton's Surge in Popularity Among Democratic Men

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 Nostalgic for Clinton Days

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.

Courting the Male Vote

The Clinton campaign has aggressively courted the women voters as part of its election strategy. Alongside numerous women-oriented outreach programs — Businesswomen for Hillary and Nurses for Hillary, among them — the campaign sent out thousands of "Hillgrams" to women supporters to keep them apprised of its work for women.

While the Clinton camp has not started any similar national efforts courting men, Ann Lewis, director of women's outreach for Clinton's White House bid, insists it is "very important to all our state-level campaigns."

To secure the presidency, Clinton will have to position herself to woo both male and female voters. Past campaigns have employed different strategies to accomplish this.

In 2004, Democratic nominee Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry made appearances in hunting gear through the homestretch of his campaign and was accused of doing it as a ploy to appeal to male voters.

In 2000, then-Vice President Al Gore hired author Naomi Wolf as a consultant to target female voters in his bid for the presidency. It was reported that she was responsible for revamping Gore's wardrobe and giving him an earth-toned look.

The Bill Factor

One successful way to woo Democrats, regardless of gender, is a secret weapon that hits close to home for Clinton: campaigning with her husband and top political strategist, former President Clinton. His presence is rare, but always a crowd-pleaser.

Some speculate that the former president will emerge more regularly as the campaign progresses and as it becomes necessary for his wife's success.

Despite poll and fundraising numbers that position her at the head of the presidential pack, Clinton makes it clear that she knows this race is not over yet.

After accepting the endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers on Wednesday she said to reporters, "I'm obviously gratified, but this is a long campaign and we are going to be in four months actually hearing the people decide what their decision would be and I am going to wait for that."

ABC News' Michael Wargo contributed to this report.