Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Hillary Clinton’s daughter bump among Democratic voters

Parents who have at least one daughter are 14 percentage points more likely to support Clinton in the primaries than parents of only sons.

Chelsea Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York in 2015.
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

It’s easy to assume that Hillary Clinton’s gender, and the possibility of electing the first woman president, will be a significant factor in many Americans’ voting decisions this year.

Not too many years ago, the story would mostly have been whether Clinton could overcome the legacy of sexism. Certainly, sexism still exists but now it seems likely that Clinton’s gender is a net plus — more likely to gain her votes from feminists than lose her votes to sexists.

Most polls to date — either showing support for Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination or trial runs of Clinton against various possible Republican nominees — do show that she runs better among women voters than among men, although it would be silly to assume that all women are feminists or that all men are sexists or that all voting decisions about Clinton for president are about gender.

But a new analysis — published by political scientist Michael Tesler of Brown University in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog and studying preferences among those likely to vote in the Democratic primaries — shows that Clinton gets a significant bump among parents and most especially with those parents who have at least one daughter.

Article continues after advertisement

Clinton gets more than 50 percent of support among parents in general. But when you break it down, those parents who have at least one daughter are 14 percentage points more likely to support Clinton in the primaries than parents of only sons. (Or, taking into account the margin of error, parents of daughters are between 8 and 20 percentage points more likely to say they support Clinton.)

What Tesler calls the “daughter effect” on Clinton support affects fathers of girls about as much as it does mothers. And it seems to hold up across white, black and Hispanic parents.

Tesler’s sample was likely Democratic voters, so, he added:

“It remains to be seen, though, whether this large and consistent impact of parenting daughters will extend into support for Hillary Clinton’s probable general election campaign. Clinton’s gender could be less of a factor in such a partisan election, where Americans who explicitly want to vote for (or against) a female candidate may have to cross party lines.”