With or without Clinton, EMILY's List wants to see a woman on the ticket in four years. To that end, the group, which works to elect pro-choice, Democratic women, launched a campaign Thursday to make sure a Democratic woman runs in 2016.
"We do not know if Hillary is going to run," EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock said at the launch of the "Madam President" campaign in Washington, D.C. "But we are hopeful that she may. And if she chooses not to, our options are far from exhausted. EMILY's List has a deep bench of strong women candidates."
Schriock declined to say whether the group was in conversations with any women, but she did name women she believes would make strong candidates: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Though there appears to be little doubt that Americans are ready to elect a woman if it's Clinton, EMILY's List presented research showing that Americans are ready to elect a woman president, period.
Their poll, conducted by the Democratic Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, found that 90 percent of likely 2016 voters across nine battleground states would consider voting for a qualified woman for president, while 86 percent believe America is ready for a woman president. Perhaps due to the excitement over Clinton, 72 percent of respondents said America is likely elect a woman in 2016.
Women, the poll found, have an advantage over men in key areas such as exercising good judgement, ending partisan bickering and putting American families above politics. They are more trusted to preserve Social Security and Medicaid, which may be why the poll found little generational divide on supporting a woman. Fifty-one percent of respondents felt women politicians were having a positive impact in Congress and 64 percent felt their women representatives were fighting for their priorities. There were only a few areas where women lagged behind men, including national security and diplomacy, though the disadvantage was not crippling.
The research seemed to confirm what political operatives are already catching onto. As The Atlantic recently reported, both parties are trying to recruit more women candidates, whom the parties believe are viewed as more trustworthy, willing to compromise and outsiders to partisan battles that make Washington so unpopular.
The campaign, which EMILY's List intends to grow over the coming years, is launching with a six-figure media buy to reach women on sites like Oprah, HelloGiggles, the New York Times, New York magazine, Feministing and BlogHer. The campaign's goal is to prepare the way for a woman candidate by sparking interest in the issue and cultivating a movement and base of support ready to embrace a woman candidate when she comes along.
The campaign, they insist, is not about Hillary Clinton, even though a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed she would run away with the Democratic nomination if she entered the race.
"For us, it's not just about one particular candidate," Schriock said, attacking the poll and others for making Clinton the only woman they include in their 2016 research. "I'd like to today challenge any national polling organization to start testing some of these other great women. ... The truth is, this is a wide open race if Secretary Clinton doesn't decide to do this."
The last election cycle, which landed a record number of women in Congress, was a mandate for women's leadership, Schriock argued.
Speaking of women candidates, Schriock faced questions about whether she herself will jump into the race for retiring Sen. Max Baucus' seat in her native Montana. "I'm waiting to see how this all plays out," Schriock said.
The poll surveyed 800 people and had an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.