Friday, October 19, 2007

Sex Matters in '08

Like it or not, sex matters in this election. Even Texas Republicans say so!

Independent evidence indicates that her sex is a strong asset in seeking the Democratic nomination. And while it would be premature to say for sure that it will help in the general election, initial signs are that it will be a plus, something a prominent Texas Republican pollster says his party has failed to recognize.

"Republicans underestimate the very powerful symbolism and feel-good emotions that would accompany electing the first woman president," said Dr. David Hill of Houston, director of Hill Research Consultants. "It's a big deal."

And remember yesterday's post?

"Before this is over, Hillary's candidacy will have more in common with Amelia Earhart's first trans-Atlantic flight or Sally K. Ride's first trip into space than Helmsley's heartlessness," he wrote.

...Mark today on your calendar - it's the one time this year I'll agree with a Texan.

And in case the cowboy rhetoric isn't enough to convince you, some empirical evidence that the "uterus vote" makes a critical difference:

Andrew Kohut of the independent Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, said a study of 40 statewide elections showed that female Democrats did better against male Republicans, largely because they did better among women and no worse among men.

Though conceding that some find Mrs. Clinton "more polarizing" than some other female candidates, Mr. Kohut suggested she would enjoy a similar advantage. He said the Pew study showed that "the gender differences in support for Clinton at this early stage in the campaign are, on average, typical for Democratic women who run for statewide office."

Her advantage is most obvious in polls of prospective Democratic primary and caucus voters. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll shows that she attracts 55 percent of women, compared with 44 percent of men. By contrast, Sen. Barack Obama gets 23 percent of women and 20 percent of men.

2008 will be so fun :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Note on that Glass Ceiling

... it's coming down.

Early this spring I wrote a hopeful piece about Clinton's bid for the presidency, her showing in the polls, and how the tradition of public opinion research supports her electability as a candidate. Since that time, Hillary's numbers and my support for the nation's first viable female presidential candidate have continued to soar (and yes, I recognize that I'm using biased and flamboyant language right now... I'm emotional).

Today especially, my support for Hillary was reaffirmed after watching footage from her Monday appearance The View. (Before you rush to say that I'm 2 days late, remember that I'm a full-time student with a 20-hour/week job and a campaign internship, so my View-watching is limited to late-night clip hunting on YouTube).

There still is a tougher standard for women, especially running for president. We’ve all been through it, in some way or another – where you go and you try to break a barrier, you do the best you can, and people are saying “I don’t like her clothes,” or “I don’t like her hair.” But I think we’re getting beyond that. One of the exciting parts of my campaign is how many people are so personally invested in this.

Everywhere I go around the country, there are two groups of people that I am particularly touched by. All these women in their nineties come to my events, and they come – they wait – sometimes they’re in wheelchairs or walkers, and they have their daughter or granddaughter bring them – and then when I’m going around shaking hands, they’ll say: ‘I’m 95 years old and I was born before women could vote. I want to live long enough to see a woman in the White House.’

The other group are parents who bring their children, particularly their daughters. After I make a speech, I go out and shake hands with everybody… I’ll hear a father or a mother lean over and say to their little girl, ‘See honey, you can be anything you want to be.’ I makes me get a welled-up sort of feeling, because my parents told me that. Not that it was true back then, but, we’ve broken a lot of barriers.

Say what you want about the relevance of political rhetoric espoused on a daytime talk show. Go ahead and question the Senator's anecdotes for their historical validity and criticize her for coming on to a women's program with a poignant message tailored specifically to that audience. I am already aware that the pundits are having a field day with Clinton's anecdotes. None of that changes the fact that I am incredibly touched by her statements.

Do I recognize that expensive message-testing and focus groups likely contributed to the poignancy of Clinton's words? Yes. Do I recognize that sex alone is not a reason to vote for a candidate? Absolutely. My support for Hillary runs deeper than her XX chromosomes, to those practical, "every day" affiliations that are so fundamental to identifying with a candidate. But Hillary's sex does make a difference to me, at least in distinguishing between the major Democratic contenders, and that's not something I can hide. Cheesey or naive as it sounds, I am proud to be a woman supporting a woman for president.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007