This past weekend Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York announced her plans to run in the 2008 presidential election, which has her loyal supporters cheering and those who dislike her cringing.
Ian Wieland, president of Fresno Stateâ€™s College Democrats, warned that Clinton faces an uphill battle. â€œHillary Clinton is popular among the party and has a strong base with the party,” he said.
â€œHowever, she is not the best choice because she is not popular outside the party.”
Wieland said it would be a better idea for Democrats to nominate a candidate who might draw votes from throughout the political spectrum â€” not Clinton.
â€œWith Hillary Clinton there is no middle ground,” he said. â€œPeople either like her or they donâ€™t.”
For some, potential for the first female president plays heavily into her favor.
Even though she said she doesnâ€™t know anything about Clintonâ€™s policies, 29-year-old health science senior Tanya Lara said she would vote for Clinton just because sheâ€™s female.
â€œWe havenâ€™t had a woman president,” she said. â€œItâ€™ll change the perception of women as leaders.”
Kathryn Forbes, associate professor of womenâ€™s studies, agreed.
Forbes said although thereâ€™s no guarantee Clinton would be â€œmore attentive to the needs of women,” she believes Clinton and feminist allies in Congress could make Americans more aware of womenâ€™s issues.
A big problem for Clinton is that she could come off as too liberal and polarizing to some voters, said assistant political science professor Tom Holyoke.
â€œItâ€™s more perception than reality,” Holyoke said. â€œWhat people believe about her is more important than the truth about her. Itâ€™s hard to shake a firm impression, and thatâ€™s the major task of her campaign.”
While Holyoke said he was pretty sure Clinton would be the eventual Democratic nominee, fellow assistant political science professor Kurt Cline was more cautious. â€œA good political scientist will never commit this early,” Cline said.
â€œShe already has a huge advantage in name recognition, but that can also be a disadvantage,” Cline said. â€œIf you like Bill Clinton, itâ€™s an advantage. If you donâ€™t like Bill Clinton, it works against her.”
Clinton was the first woman elected independently statewide in New York as senator in November 2000, defeating Republican candidate Rick Lazio. She is the first presidentâ€™s wife to win political office.
According to USA Today, exit polls for the New York senate race showed that â€œoverwhelming numbers” of African-Americans and Hispanics voted for Clinton. She won about three-fifths of womenâ€™s votes as well as moderatesâ€™ votes. The exit polls indicated that four out of five self-described moderates voted for Clinton.
Cline said Clinton would have problems in the South, which should cause some of her fellow Democratic rivals to question her national appeal. â€œShe will have difficulty bridging the ideological divide,” Cline said. â€œBut itâ€™s a long campaign. Hillary definitely brings something different to the table.”
For health major Xochtl Casillas, itâ€™s more the Y-chromosome Clinton wouldnâ€™t bring to the table. â€œI think it is a great opportunity for women,” she said. â€œWomen need to have positions with power.”
Students from the MCJ 108 class contributed to this report.