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03.06.11

Newsweek Survey: Oprah, Clinton Most Admired Women in America

Oprah easily tops our national sample, followed by Clinton, with large majorities giving Hillary high marks as secretary of state and preferring her over Sarah Palin in a 2012 presidential contest. Women are evenly divided on abortion, but a majority oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, the sample shows.

Oprah Winfrey is the most admired woman among American females, followed by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, with Sarah Palin placing seventh, after Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush and news anchor Diane Sawyer, a new Newsweek survey reveals. The survey also shows that a whopping three-quarters of women give Clinton's job performance as secretary of state a thumbs-up; 62 percent believe Clinton would beat Palin in a 2012 presidential matchup; 60 percent think Palin would lose if she faced President Obama; and that women oppose, by 53 to 34 percent, overturning Roe v. Wade. Here are the results of the national representative sample of 400 women, assessing women's opinions on a number of women's issues, the 2012 election, and Clinton specifically. It was conducted Feb. 26, 2011 by Douglas E. Schoen, LLC.

Most Admired Woman in the U.S.

The most admired woman in the United States is Oprah Winfrey. One-quarter say Oprah Winfrey is the most admired woman, 17 percent say Hillary Clinton, 12 percent say Michelle Obama and 10 percent say Condoleezza Rice. Nine percent say Laura Bush, 7 percent say Diane Sawyer and 6 percent say Sarah Palin.

Republican women say Oprah Winfrey is the most admired woman (33 percent), followed by Sarah Palin (18 percent). Democratic women say Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman (31 percent), followed by Oprah Winfrey (21 percent). Independent women say Oprah Winfrey as well (23 percent), followed by Diane Sawyer (19 percent).

Hillary Clinton

A large majority of women approve of the way Hillary Clinton is performing her job as secretary of state. Seventy-six percent say they approve while 9 percent say they disapprove.

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Women across the political spectrum approve the way Clinton is performing her job as secretary of state. Democrats approve 94 to 0 percent, Independents approve 81 to 9 percent, and Republicans approve 54 to 18 percent. Liberals approve 98 to 0 percent, moderates approve 84 to 4 percent, and conservatives approve 63 to 8 percent.

Women believe that Hillary Clinton has made improving the welfare of women and girls a higher priority in U.S. foreign policy, 60 to 24 percent.

Role of Gender in Job Performance

Women do not believe Clinton's gender influences her job performance as secretary of state. Eighty-two say that Hillary Clinton being a woman does not impact her job performance. Seven percent say that being a woman helps her do her job and 7 percent say her being a woman hurts her do her job.

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Likewise, 76 percent say that a woman's gender would not impact her ability to govern as president. Nine percent say a woman would govern better than a man as president, while 6 percent say a woman would govern worse.

Among women who say a woman would govern better than a man as president, 49 percent say a woman would be more thoughtful and 45 percent say she would be more compassionate. Among women who say a woman would govern worse than a man as president, 28 percent say a woman would be too emotional and 21 percent say she would deal worse with stress.

U.S. Foreign Policy and Women's Issues

Seventy-seven percent say that U.S. foreign policy should encourage the education of girls around the world and enhance the civil rights of women regardless of local cultural norms that may not have these priorities. Fifteen percent disagree.

A large majority of women also say it is important to offer family planning services in developing countries, 76 percent to 20 percent.

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Women are less sure about whether these family planning services should include counseling on access to abortion. Fifty-four percent say it is perfectly reasonable for some foreign aid programs, particularly those involving family planning, to also include counseling on access to abortion. Forty percent say our foreign aid programs that provide family planning support should not in any way promote abortion.

Women split by party on this issue. Republicans say foreign aid programs should not promote abortion, 69 to 28 percent, while Democrats say they should include such counseling, 72 to 18 percent. Independents agree, 65 to 31 percent. Liberals and moderates agree with the Democrats and Independents, 81 to 9 percent and 71 to 22 percent respectively. Conservatives disagree, 72 to 26 percent.

If the 2012 presidential election were between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, Clinton would beat Palin by a 62 percent to 26 percent margin among female voters.

Interestingly, women are divided on the U.S.' role regarding women's rights in Muslim countries. Thirty-five percent say the U.S. should take a stronger stand against restrictions on women's rights in Muslim cultures, while 51 percent say this is not something that we should be involved with.

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Curiously, Democrats are more supportive of women's rights and feel it is a more important foreign policy goal than Republicans. Republicans say we should not be involved with this, 69 to 25 percent, while Democratic women say the U.S. should take a stronger stand, 42 to 34 percent. Independents break 48 to 40 percent against the U.S. taking a stronger stand.

Liberals believe the U.S. should take a stronger stand against restrictions on women's rights in Muslim cultures, 54 to 19 percent, while conservatives feel we should not be involved with this, 68 to 20 percent. Moderates are divided, saying we should not be involved with this by a 46 to 44 percent margin.

Politics

Female Democratic voters break slightly for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2012 Democratic primary. Forty-three percent say they would vote for Obama while 38 percent say they would vote for Clinton.

Voters in the Northeast and Midwest are split. Those in the Northeast break slightly for Obama, 43 to 37 percent, and those in the Midwest are evenly divided at 40 percent. Those in the West support Clinton 54 to 37 percent and those in the South support Obama, 49 to 27 percent.

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Liberals and moderates support Obama while conservative Democrats support Clinton. Liberals support Obama 44 to 33 percent, and moderates support him 56 to 27 percent. Conservatives support Hillary Clinton 75 to 8 percent.

If the 2012 presidential election were between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, Clinton would beat Palin by a 62 to 26 percent margin among female voters.

If Obama was the Democratic candidate for president in 2012 against Sarah Palin, he would beat Palin 60 to 30 percent among female voters.

Despite strong support for Clinton in 2012, there is not a lot of support for her in 2016 as a presidential candidate. Thirty-four percent say that assuming Clinton does not run in 2012 and runs in 2016 they are very likely or absolutely certain to support her candidacy for president, while 35 percent say they are not very likely to support it. Twenty percent say they would possibly support it.

There is even some doubt about Clinton in 2016 among Democrats, as just barely a majority (54 percent) says they are very likely or absolutely certain to support her candidacy for president in 2016. Twenty-nine percent say they are possibly or not very likely to support it.

Planned Parenthood and Abortion

Fifty-five percent say it is appropriate for the federal government to provide support to Planned Parenthood so it can provide family planning services in the United States, while 31 percent support the effort by House Republicans to take all federal funds away from Planned Parenthood.

Sixty percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Independents believe it is appropriate for the federal government to provide support to Planned Parenthood. Republicans support the effort to take away all federal funding, 61 to 33 percent.

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Conservatives support the Republican effort to take away funding, 67 to 15 percent. Liberals and moderates say it is appropriate for the federal government to provide support to Planned Parenthood, 86 to 7 percent and 70 to 13 percent.

Women are evenly divided on abortion. Forty-eight percent say they are pro-life, while 46 percent say they are pro-choice.

Liberals are pro-choice, 71 to 22 percent, moderates are pro-choice, 61 to 33 percent, and conservatives are pro-life, 86 to 13 percent.

Women oppose overturning the Roe. V. Wade decision, 53 to 34 percent.

A look at this issue by party shows that taking on abortion is a losing issue for Republicans with Independents, swing voters and women. Democrats oppose overturning Roe v. Wade 62 to 17 percent, and Independents oppose this 71 to 15 percent. Republicans support overturning Roe v. Wade 70 to 26 percent.

Respondents believe that abortion rights should be a side issue that should not be part of the current debate over government spending and the federal deficit, 65 to 26 percent.

Even Republicans do not think abortion rights should be considered in the debate over government spending and the federal deficit, 59 to 35 percent. Democrats agree, 74 to 9 percent, and Independents agree, 64 to 35 percent.

Women also oppose shutting down government if the Senate refuses to approve defunding Planned Parenthood, 65 to 19 percent.

Twelve percent of women say they would still support shutting down government over this issue if it meant that Social Security, veteran benefits and other social welfare programs were temporarily interrTupted because of the closing of government.

The 2011 Women in the World Poll