U.S. ready for a female president -- but electing one isn't a top priority, CNN/ORC poll finds

Story highlights

  • A new CNN/ORC Poll finds that 80% of American voters feel the country is ready to put a woman in the Oval Office
  • Along partisan lines, Democrats are more likely to say the nation is ready than are Republicans: 90% among Democrats vs. 68% among Republicans

Washington (CNN)With the Democratic Party poised to nominate the first major-party female candidate for president, a new CNN/ORC Poll finds that 80% of American voters feel the country is ready to put a woman in the Oval Office.

But far fewer say it's important to them that the nation do so during their lifetimes.
    The 8 in 10 who feel the country is prepared to elect its first female president is slightly higher than its peak in the 2008 primaries, when Hillary Clinton made her first bid for the presidency. As recently as 2006, just 6 in 10 voters said the nation was ready for a woman president.
    READ: Full results

    Men are more apt than women to say the nation is ready for a female president. About three-quarters of women say so (76%) vs. 83% of men. That's in keeping with other surveys finding that women are more apt to say women face discrimination in American society. A Kaiser Family Foundation-Washington Post poll conducted last year found that 85% of women said women face at least some discrimination in U.S. society, more than the 73% of men who said the same.
    Along partisan lines, Democrats are more likely to say the nation is ready than are Republicans: 90% among Democrats vs. 68% among Republicans. Some of that may be due to views on Clinton herself, as those with a favorable impression of her are more likely to say the country's ready for a female president than those with an unfavorable take (92% among those with a favorable impression of Clinton, 71% among those with an unfavorable view).
    Still, when those who say the nation is ready for a woman are asked how important it is for them personally that the U.S. elect a female president during their lifetimes, just 31% say it's a very important priority. That figure is higher among women (35%) than among men (25%), and Democrats (54%) prioritize it more than Republicans (13%).
    Younger women participating in Democratic primaries and caucuses have generally been more likely to back Clinton's male opponent, Bernie Sanders, while older women have broken heavily in Clinton's favor. But younger women are more likely to consider electing a female president in their lifetime an important priority. Among female voters under age 50, 41% say it is extremely or very important for the nation to elect a woman president during their lifetime. That stands at 30% among older women.
    "Women are just as qualified as men and I'm glad to see that the American electorate is seeing that," Sanders' wife, Jane Sanders, told CNN's Jim Sciutto on "The Lead" Friday afternoon. "It really doesn't come down to gender, it comes down to qualifications, experience and judgment. So I think it's crazy that anybody thought they weren't ready to elect a woman president."
    The survey also asked whether people consider themselves feminists, and among those who do consider themselves feminists, 45% say it's important for the country to elect a woman president vs. 23% among those who do not consider themselves feminists. About 3 in 10 Americans overall say they are feminists.
    The CNN/ORC poll was conducted by telephone February 24-27 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. Results for the 920 registered voters surveyed have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.