No one should feign surprise at a new poll showing women more supportive of Caroline Kennedy's bid to replace Hillary Clinton as New York's junior U.S. senator. But what is interesting about this poll is why men are less likely to support her:
Fifty-seven percent of the women taking part in the new CNN-Opinion Research Corp. Poll said that Kennedy is qualified to be a senator from New York. But only 47 percent of men agreed.
CNN's polling director, Keating Holland, says that the gender gap reflects dramatically different perceptions of Kennedy's record.
"Men may think of qualifications for public office in terms of work experience, while women may be looking at a candidate's life experience," says Holland. "Caroline Kennedy has a personal history that may be compelling to many women, but her resume is not very long, and that may be a mark against her to some men."
Do I smell a bit of sexism in men's decision-making processes? Would those same men have held it against Barack Obama that he had only two years in the Senate when he started running for president? What about Arnold Schwarzenegger's long legislative career or that of Ronald Reagan when he ran for governor?
Caroline Kennedy is certainly not qualified for the office she seeks. But qualifications seem to be much less important to men when male action stars seek office.