Are Americans ready for a woman to be elected president?

Linley SandersData Journalist
February 23, 2023, 1:30 PM GMT+0

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley faces a difficult road ahead as she enters the 2024 GOP presidential contest. She's the fifth Republican woman to seek the presidency, but her party has never nominated a woman for the country's highest office. As the only woman who's declared her 2024 candidacy thus far, Haley has faced media scrutiny about her low odds of winning the nomination and has been called a more likely consideration for vice president than president.

There are some factors that could work in Haley's favor though, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. Republicans like Haley (53% view her favorably) more than they dislike her (20% unfavorably) — especially Republican men (60% favorable, 21% unfavorable). Republican women also like Haley (46% favorable, 19% unfavorable), but they are less likely than Republican men to have an opinion of her. Haley is slightly less known (and less popular) than presumed 2024 frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.

In addition, nearly two-thirds of Republicans (63%) say it would be "a good thing for the country" if a Republican woman was elected president. That said, fewer than half of Republicans (46%) — including 48% of Republican men and 44% of Republican women — say the U.S. is ready to elect a woman to the nation's highest office. The same share (46%) of Republicans believe the country will eventually see a woman serve as president.

An even lower share — just 37% of Republicans — personally hope that the U.S. has a woman president in their lifetime. This number could reflect an overall disinterest in having a woman as president — or could also reflect a more specific fear: that Vice President Kamala Harris, second-in-line to the presidency behind 80-year-old President Joe Biden, could be elevated to the job. Republicans do not like Biden (81% view him unfavorably), but they view Harris just as unfavorably (79%).

A majority of Americans (55%) say they hope there will be a woman who serves as president in their lifetime, but just 50% expect one will. A similar share of Americans (49%) say that the country is ready to elect a woman as president. Democrats are especially hopeful (77%) that they will see a woman as president in their lifetime; most (59%) think the country is ready, and 57% believe it will happen.

Overall, women (53%) are more likely than men (43%) to say that it's easier for male politicians to get elected to high political office in the U.S. than it is for women. Men are as likely to see no gender difference (44%) when it comes to getting elected to high political office as they are to say men have an easier time of it (43%). Democratic women (63%) and Republican women (49%) are more likely to say that men have a candidacy advantage than to say gender doesn't matter.

— Taylor Orth contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on February 20 - 21, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty Images (Win McNamee)