Wednesday, 28 May, 2008 1:27 PM
Popularity Contest: Five Reasons Why So Many Voters Don't Like Hillary
in 2006, it seemed like Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in to win the
2008 Democratic presidential nomination. So what happened? Roxanne
Rivera says it all comes down to the L-word...likeability.
courtesy of www.carboncommentary.com
NM — Well, the Democratic presidential primaries
roller-coaster ride is winding down and it appears Barack Obama
will be the nominee. And chances are, no one is more surprised than
Hillary Clinton. Who could have predicted the candidate, who regularly
appears in the top five of the USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll annual
list of most admired women, would be toppled by a first-term senator
who was virtually unknown just a couple of years ago? Now that Hillary's
defeat could be imminent, many people are scratching their heads,
wondering why such an intelligent and politically savvy woman couldn't
defeat the charismatic rookie she was up against. Some say it is
the result of sexist voters, who are not ready to elect a woman
president. Others are pretty sure they know the answer: Hillary
just isn't likeable.
Rivera, a former spokesperson for the New Mexico Republican Party
and creator of nocryinginconstruction.com—a
website aimed at women currently working or planning to work in
a male-dominated industry—belongs to this camp.
whatever reason, too many people simply don't like Hillary,"
says Rivera. "Though she has been on the 'most admired' list
since the nineties, maybe people are only now really getting to
know her now that they are seeing her up close and personal in the
campaign. Of course, likeability is subjective. One person might
define it in terms of attractiveness; another might say it requires
a friendly demeanor; yet another might cite a sense of humor. Being
likeable means bringing out the best in other people, inspiring
them to feel a personal connection with you, and making them feel
good about themselves. It's a quality that people experience emotionally
and even viscerally, not logically. It's a necessity in politics—and
Hillary clearly doesn't have it."
factor makes a difference in all of our lives. Consider the 1984
University of California study that showed doctors give more time
to patients they like. Or the Columbia University study that showed
that success in the workplace is based on how popular you are with
come as no surprise that very likeable people tend to have better
lives than their unlikeable brethren. They are typically more successful
and definitely more influential than the average person. That's
why so many politicians—at least in their campaigning phase—are
so eager to "meet and greet" others. They want you to
like them, and they know that the extent to which you do will determine
how important likeability is in politics: Before every election
since 1960, a Gallup Poll has been taken that includes questions
based on the personalities of the presidential candidates. These
polls have shown a definite correlation between the candidates'
perceived likeability and which candidate actually won the election.
Clearly, this does not bode well for Hillary—even with all
her other decidedly presidential qualities.
Clinton is dynamic," says Rivera. "She is aggressive when
she needs to be and a hard worker. That said, a recent Gallup Poll
asking who voters would least like to see elected as president suggests
these traits may not be enough to put her over the top. When the
results were tallied, McCain came in first at 40 percent, but Hillary
was a close second with 36 percent. And the reasons that 36 percent
didn't want Hillary to be president included not trusting her, not
liking her, and not liking her attitude."
question, Rivera says, is whether voters don't like her because
she truly is unlikeable or whether they don't like her because they
are intimidated by a strong, intelligent woman. She cites a 2007
study done by Green Mountain College in Vermont that showed that
when the female in a couple was more dominating, her partner was
seen as less competent and the couple as a whole was seen as less
a man is powerful, straightforward, and dynamic, people say he is
charismatic," notes Rivera. "But too often these traits
mean Hillary is viewed as controlling, manipulative, and emotionally
cold—the exact opposite of likeable."
specifically is it about Hillary that gives her a low likeability
quotient? Rivera has narrowed it down to five characteristics that
she thinks affect how much people like Hillary.
We humans are hardwired to respond to smiling faces. There is a
caveat though: The smile must be genuine. You can spot a fake smile
from a mile away; it looks forced and doesn't convey a feeling of
warmth. A genuine smile lights up the entire face and is based on
watched Hillary closely throughout her campaign and there have been
many times when Hillary's smile has seemed forced," says Rivera.
"It seems as though she can turn it on and off at the drop
of a hat. It comes off as a performance smile rather than one generated
from true emotion. It does not spread to her eyes as a genuine smile
would. A fake smile can make it difficult for a candidate to connect
to voters, and I think that has definitely been true for Hillary."
to be a good listener. Politicians absolutely have to be good listeners.
And the best politicians are able to use what they've heard in order
to provide thoughtful answers or solutions for voters. Unfortunately,
says Rivera, it's often obvious when Hillary is being interviewed
that she's not listening to the person asking her the questions.
can see in her eyes that she is just waiting for the other person
to stop talking so that she can interject her opinion," says
Rivera. "Have you ever noticed that she will often start to
shake her head 'no' the moment the interviewer starts talking? It's
a definite indication that she isn't giving her full attention to
him or her. When people feel like you are truly listening to them,
you make them feel like they are the only person on earth. I think
if Hillary had come off as a better listener she would have won
the hearts of more voters."
of honesty. Honesty and trustworthiness go hand in hand. When you
don't feel like you can trust someone, you don't like them—and
you certainly aren't likely to vote them into political office.
In fact, in the Gallup Poll mentioned earlier, lack of trust was
the biggest reason voters said they least wanted Hillary to be elected
Hillary related a made-up story about being under sniper fire, it
definitely negatively affected how much people felt they could trust
her," says Rivera. "For me, the most disturbing thing
about the Bosnia story was that she didn't seem to feel bad about
the fictionalized version she told. She didn't show any remorse
or guilt for her dishonesty. Likeable people are first and foremost
honest and trustworthy, but when they do make a mistake they are
quick to apologize and correct the situation."
personality. Rivera says that Hillary has demonstrated a burning
desire to continue to convince every demographic of the population
that she is the right woman for the job. In the process, she has
seemingly taken on different personalities to make those groups
she has changed her own personality to appeal to others, she has
sacrificed her ability to make a true personal connection with voters,"
says Rivera. "When a woman has worked in a male-dominated field
as long as Hillary has, there comes a point when she should no longer
feel the urge to keep proving herself. By now, Hillary should be
comfortable enough with her accomplishments to put down that burning
desire and be herself. When she can do that, people will be able
to connect with her on a new level."
to be empathetic. Empathetic people are those who can easily put
themselves in someone else's shoes. Women who succeed in male-dominated
fields usually possess a high level of emotional intelligence because
they have to spend a good portion of their time reading the emotions
and reactions of the men they are working with. Hillary may have
"brainpower" intelligence in abundance, says Rivera, but
she is sadly lacking in the emotional variety.
think Hillary finds it difficult to empathize with the wide array
of people she is seeking to lead," says Rivera. "Consider
Hillary's recent stop in North Carolina. There she was in the back
of a pick-up truck with people all around explaining how the gas
tax holiday would help everyone out at the pump this summer. She
may have been trying to show empathy for the burden increased prices
are placing on middle class Americans, but using such a stereotypically
'Southern' truck as her podium felt like pandering. True empathy
would have meant addressing the crowd with dignity and respect rather
than resorting to a cheap, and frankly, transparent political stunt."
Hillary's shortcomings mean that women are doomed to mediocrity
in politics or in any segment of the male-dominated world, assures
Rivera. There are plenty of assertive, strong women out there who
are liked and respected by millions—Oprah Winfrey, Martha
Stewart, Margaret Thatcher, and Maya Angelou are just a few. That
means you can succeed without compromising yourself in any way.
In fact, be yourself and you'll be more likely to possess the likeability
women can be likeable," says Rivera. "They need only possess
the characteristics that others find endearing. In our relationships
with others, we value honesty, trustworthiness, empathy, and genuineness—and
we certainly want those qualities in our president, whether that
person is a man or a woman."
using a personal savings of $1,200, Rivera co-founded a sole proprietorship
construction service business and grew it to a $13 million company
that incorporated in 1989. She oversaw all operations and up to
100 employees plus subcontractors in three offices throughout New
Mexico. She wrote, marketed, and secured multi-million-dollar contracts
in both the government and private sectors.
key clients included the US Army Corps of Engineers, White Sands
Missile Range, the US Air Force, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency,
the Department of Defense, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Intel,
General Electric, Ethicon, and Rockwell International.
firm received numerous small business awards, including two Small
Business Administrator's Awards of Excellence and several nominations
for Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year. She was named Female
Executive of the Year by the National Association of Female Executives
in 1995. Her firm was listed in the Top 500 Hispanic-Owned Businesses
in the United States for five consecutive years.
been appointed to several national advisory committees,
most recently appointed by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to the
National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics where she was the only
businessperson on the committee.
served on both the Association of Builders and Contractors and the
Associated General Contractors Boards of Directors. She also served
on the Board of Directors for the University of New Mexico Construction
Program Advisory Council, which she helped to found. Rivera has
been an active community leader, currently serving on the board
for the YWCA, and has worked extensively with ARCA, the Association
for Retarded Citizens of Albuquerque.
also spoken at and conducted seminars throughout the country with
regard to Communication in the Construction Industry and Women in
she serves as CEO of Syntactics Communication Skills, LLC, a company
that offers presentation and speaking skills training and coaching
to executives at every level. In addition, she provides corporate
consulting through KEYGroup®, an international consulting, training,
and assessment firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.
Source: DeHart &