Decision 2020

How Does Gender Factor Into the 2020 Presidential Race?

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Did Bernie Sanders tell Elizabeth Warren in a private conversation last year that a women couldn't win the presidency?

She says yes. He says no.

Either way, the question of a woman's electability is back in the 2020 conversation.

"For hundreds of years in this country, politics has meant three things," said Amanda Lee of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. "It's meant straight, white and male."

The foundation, which is dedicated to advancing women's representation in American politics, has been researching this topic for decades.

Hunter says electability is often a code word for sexism.

"The notion that women are unelectable is a tired myth," she said.

The results of the 2018 elections included a record number of diverse women being elected to top offices around the country.

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation has also done research to back that up.

"We did a study this summer, with our partners at American University, for gender on the ballot, where eight in 10 voters rejected the notion that America is not ready for a woman president," Hunter said.

"A woman would definitely be electable against Donald Trump. I don't know if Elizabeth Warren is electable against Donald Trump," said Republican political consultant Rob Gray.

He says Warren, struggling in the polls against a surging Sanders, is using the controversy as a wedge to solidify her support among women.

But Gray thinks Warren has bigger problems.

"Elizabeth Warren's problem is her policies, how much they're going to cost in new taxes," Gray said. "The fact that she's very, very liberal and out of the mainstream in terms of middle America. It doesn't matter if she's male or female."

It's the same reason Gray thinks it would be just as hard for Sanders to beat Trump.

While sexism certainly exists, it's hard to argue, with Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote in 2016, that Americans are not ready for a woman to be president.

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