Sept. 4, 2007 -- If the presidential race were a cross-country road trip, Hillary Clinton would be in the driver's seat. Or at least riding shotgun.
It's not, of course. But in a what-if test, 48 percent of Americans in this ABC News "Good Morning America" poll said they'd rather have Clinton as their traveling companion on a drive across country, versus 39 percent who'd want Rudy Giuliani along for the ride. The difference is mainly a woman thing: By a big 19-point margin — 54 percent to 35 percent — women would rather ride with Clinton. Men, by contrast, divide about evenly on whom they'd want on board.
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It's closer, though, when you move the question out of the Toyota and into the corner office. Ask people whom they'd rather have running a business where they worked and Clinton and Giuliani finish much closer, at 45 percent to 42 percent — essentially a dead heat, given polling tolerances. That's because on this one, women prefer Clinton by a narrower margin, and men prefer Giuliani, by eight points.
Neither sets of results directly signify vote preference, which tends to be driven by issues rather than by personal attributes. But of the two scenarios, running a business would seem more analogous to serving as president. Clinton had best not switch on the cruise control quite yet.
Fifty-one percent of leaned Democrats say they'd rather share a cross-country drive with Clinton than with either of her closest competitors, Barack Obama or John Edwards. But far fewer, 37 percent, say they'd rather have Clinton running their company.
Among Democrats, as overall, women are responsible for the difference: They're much more likely to pick Clinton as a traveling companion than to pick her as their company's boss. Old stereotypes may be lingering, potentially a challenge for Clinton even in her own party.
There are some differences among other groups, largely aligning with Democratic vote choices. In preference to run the company, Clinton does best among moderate rather than liberal Democrats, and among lower-income and less well-educated Democrats. Apart from the moderate-liberal difference, results are similar on the question of a cross-country drive.
Interestingly, liberal Democrats divide about evenly between Clinton and Obama, 27 percent to 29 percent, on whom they'd like to run their company, but prefer Clinton by 2-1 over Obama, 48 percent to 23 percent, in whom they'd like along on a cross-country drive. That could point to another possible advantage for Clinton in the more personal, drive-across-country measure: After eight years as first lady, she has far more time in the celebrity spotlight than Obama does.
Among moderate Republicans, 51 percent pick Giuliani to run their company, and 48 percent would like him on a long drive; among conservative Republicans, these fall to 31 percent and 27 percent, respectively. Indeed about as many conservatives would like Thompson along on a cross-country drive (25 percent) as Giuliani. But Giuliani runs ahead of Thompson, even among conservative Republicans, in the more management-oriented question of preference to run the company.
Clinton, for her part, does best in preference in both questions among (beyond women and Democrats), Westerners (though Giuliani also is weak in the Northeast), lower-income and less-educated adults, nonwhites and liberals (though she also leads Giuliani among moderates).