Americans value business, management experience in gov't leaders: Poll

A new Gallup Poll finds that more than eight in 10 Americans believe the country would be better governed by people with business and management experience, possibly giving a leg up to any future candidates for president or Congress who come from the private sector.

Still, the poll's authors note that these favored characteristics don't always determine a person's vote, citing as an example President Obama's victory over former businessman and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.

The poll asked Americans to weigh in on whether the country would be better governed with more of a certain type of person in political office. The second place was a tie between women and "people who think it is more important to compromise to get things done than to hold firm to their principles," with 63 percent of people surveyed saying that type of person would lead to better governance.

But Americans clearly value principle as well as pragmatism and compromise, since 56 percent said the country would be better governed by "people who think it is more important to hold firm to their principles than to compromise to get things done." Political moderates got 59 percent support.

Rounding out the bottom of the list - which also included people who are personally religious (51 percent), people who have never previously held political office (49 percent) and racial and ethnic minorities (48 percent) was people backed by the tea party movement. Just 32 percent of Americans said the country would be better governed with more people like that in office.

Gallup also dug into their findings about women in political office. While 69 percent of women said the country would be better governed with women in office, just 55 percent of men said the same. Younger people were far more likely to want more women in leadership than seniors.

Women are vastly underrepresented in political office compared to their size in the general population. Congress includes just 20 female U.S. senators and 79 female representatives. Across the nation, there are just five female state governors.

Groups that were the least enthusiastic about more women governing include Republicans (46 percent say the country would be governed better), married men (45 percent) and conservatives (51 percent).

Women enjoyed the most support from traditionally left-leaning groups of people including self-identified liberals, unmarried women and young women (76 to 78 percent of all these groups backed more women leaders), as well as three quarters of blacks and Democrats.

The poll was based on landline and cellular telephone interviews with 1,023 adults ages 18 and older on July 12 and 13, 2014. The margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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