Electing Madam President – Long before the votes are cast, this campaign is historic. Long before the votes are cast, this campaign is historic.

Political scholars, voters and the media are keen to talk about the history that would be made if presidential candidate Hillary Clinton becomes the first female president of the United States in 2016.

book cover - in it to win

In her new book Professor Lori Cox Han, Ph.D., analyzes strategies for women seeking the highest office.

But a significant milestone has already been made in the run-up to the election, says Lori Cox Han, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Political Science. After her strong performance in September’s Republican candidate debate,
Carly Fiorina’s
popularity climbed and for the first time each party has a viable female candidate in the presidential running.

“Political history has already been made in this campaign with a woman running on each side. We’ve never had that before,” said Cox Han, who is a regular contributor at the blog

Cox Han is the author of the new book
In It to Win: Electing Madam President
(Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015) and a widely published scholar on the American presidency. She attributes much of Fiorina’s rise to the same anti-establishment trend that has fueled Donald Trump’s campaign.

“She has elevated herself to the point where she will be in the discussion when it comes time to picking a running mate, whoever the Republican nominee is,” Cox Han says.

Meanwhile, Clinton is still the leading Democratic candidate, according to
. A Clinton win in 2016, would be profoundly historic, but wouldn’t necessarily bust the so-called glass ceiling the former secretary of State, U.S. senator and first lady often references, Cox Han says. Indeed, if there’s a ceiling at all.

woman smiling

More women governors in large states would generate more female presidential candidates, says Cox Han.

“Some women-in-politics scholars are moving away from the idea of a glass ceiling. When we’re talking about the White House, it’s not a good analogy,” she says. In her most recent book Cox Han explains that while advancement in the business world might be about “moving up the ladder,” the paths to the White House – and other top elective offices – are more complicated.

And those complications are less about gender bias and fundraising than they are about the complex American presidential election process shaped by the Constitution, candidate recruitment into politics and the shortage of women governors in large states, she says.

“There aren’t enough women in the presidential and vice-presidential on-deck circle,” she says.

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