Gender Gap Politics

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is the first woman in U.S. history to be a major party's leading candidate for president. But will sisterhood translate into women's votes, propelling the former first lady into the White House as the country's first female president?

Clinton has been the Democratic front-runner among both male and female Democrats since announcing her candidacy in late January. But, according to a recent ABC News poll, female Democrats are more likely to name Clinton as their pick for the Democratic nomination than her male counterparts.

In a Gallup Poll released Friday, 39 percent of female Democrats support Clinton as their top choice, compared with 29 percent of male Democrats, marking a 10-percentage-point advantage for Clinton with women in her party.

'We've Never Been in This Place Before'

Some suggest women are inspired by Clinton's candidacy because of the historic possibility of the first woman president.

"The excitement is there because this is the first chance to elect a woman president," said Ellen Moran, executive director of EMILY's List, the nation's largest political action committee dedicated to electing Democratic women, which has endorsed Clinton.

"This is a moment in history where we've got a woman candidate entering this race as a front-runner, and there's broad agreement that she can do this job and she would make a good president," said Moran. "We've never been in this place before."

Others suggest Clinton's gender gap advantage has more to do with her record on the issues.

"It's not surprising that Hillary Clinton has an edge among women; she has been a role model for an entire generation of women and has a voting record on issues that are of particular importance to women that is extremely strong," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, the largest women's rights organization in the United States.

Gandy said women usually favor the types of issues that Clinton champions, such as pay equality and health care.

"Sen. Hillary Clinton is talking about issues a majority of women voters care about like equal pay for comparable worth," added Donna Brazile, an ABC News consultant and the first African American woman to manage a major party presidential campaign.

Does Gender Matter?

The latest ABC News poll found that 72 percent of people asked said that a candidate's gender "wouldn't matter."

In that same poll, 37 percent of women under 30 said they're more likely to support a woman.

Mobilizing that vote -- turning stated support into actual votes -- is one of the primary missions of several women's organizations over the next two years.

EMILY's List is planning a major mobilization effort targeting women in the lead-up to the primary elections, in an effort to persuade them to vote for Clinton.

"We now have a unique opportunity to mobilize and persuade women on behalf of our first opportunity to put a woman in the White House and so we are going to bring all our methods and tools to bear," said Moran, noting women are often "hard to reach" but like to hear about candidates from other women.

Moran said EMILY's List is planning to reach out to women in primary states with door-to-door visits, Internet e-mails, mailings and telephone calls.

The 'X' Factor

In her inaugural campaign trip to Iowa last month, Clinton put the gender issue front and center.

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