Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to a crowd in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Jan. 21, 2015.
Liam Richards/The Canadian Press/AP

Poll: Republicans 'less likely' to support Clinton because of gender

Hillary Clinton is crushing Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush in hypothetical match-ups for the 2016 presidential contest, according to a new poll, which also shows that GOP voters are less likely to vote for the former secretary of state because she would be the first woman president.

Clinton currently leads Bush 54% to 41% among registered voters, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, and Romney by 55% to 40%. She has similarly strong leads over the other prospective candidates.

Clinton would be the first woman president if she decides to run in 2016 and wins, but most voters -- 65% -- say this would have no impact on their vote. Among respondents who say it would impact their vote, most say her gender would make them "more likely" to vote for her.

But not so among Republicans. While most GOP respondents say her gender would make no difference on their vote, among those who did, just 8% say they would be more likely to vote for Clinton -- and three times as many, 24%, say they would be less likely to vote for Clinton because she would be the first female president.

Among Democrats who say Clinton’s gender would have any impact, they overwhelming say it would make them more likely to vote for her.

In a prospective field dominated by questions about dynasty, the poll shows that Clinton’s marriage to former president  Bill Clinton might be slightly beneficial, though most say it would not have an impact.

The same is not true for Bush and Romney. While a majority say Bush’s family connections to the presidency would not influence their vote, among those who do say it would be a factor, sentiment runs 3 to 1 in the negative direction. And among voters who say Romney's 2012 presidential run would be influential, almost twice as many say it makes them less likely to support Romney than support him.

Political science research has shown that early polls so far out from election day are not predictive and should be taken with a grain of salt, but they can influence the behind-the-scenes positioning of candidates among donors and party elites as they prepare for a run.

Romney’s allies, for instance, have argued that he’s more likely to beat Clinton than Bush, so polls showing that may not be the case could hurt him as he tries to make his case to party elites.