If Hillary Clinton is elected as the first female president in November, it will mark a watershed moment in United States history.
And in the shadow of this accomplishment, the country will reach another (albeit less important) milestone: Bill Clinton will become the first male spouse of a US president.
The term "first lady" will not suffice. So what to call Bill?
Working with Morning Consult, we posed this question to 1,921 Americans. Here’s how they answered.
Nearly half of all respondents agreed that "former President Bill Clinton" would be the most appropriate title. Trailing distantly were the more generally applicable "first gentleman" (20 percent), "first man" (11 percent), and "first husband" (8 percent).
"First dude" actually garnered 3 percent of the total vote — surprisingly high, given the term's informality. This percentage was even higher (6 percent) for Republican men and men who identified as unemployed. In some sense, if there were ever a political figurehead to embrace the essence of dudeness, it would be Bill Clinton.
In general, younger voters are more open to giving Bill an informal title than older voters. Some 20 percent of respondents ages 18 to 29 voted for "first man," compared with just 4 percent for those 65 and older. The older voters were, the more likely they were to select the most formal of the options ("former President Bill Clinton").
There is no steadfast rule governing what Bill’s title has to be
The term "first lady" is freeform. In the earliest days of the presidency, there was no official title for the position, and spouses were free to designate their own. Though "first lady" dates all the way back to Martha Washington, it didn’t really catch on until the 1860s — but only by personal choice, not mandate.
Like the ladies, Bill would enjoy the freedom to choose his own designation. Unlike his predecessors though, he possesses the added gravitas of being an ex-POTUS, making "former President Bill Clinton" the most logical choice.
But given Bill’s unbridled joy at last week’s Democratic National Convention, that choice could just as easily be "commander in balloons."