Conservatives are ecstatic over the continuing reports of Obama’s problems with women and — more specifically — with Hillary supporters. But how deep are these troubles? No, let’s ask a better question: What proof do we have that this is real? You know, real enough to cause women to turn their back on the Democrats and vote for John McCain, a man who’s against equal pay for women — blaming his dissent on “frivolous lawsuits” — opposes choice, and doesn’t respect our civil rights?
Not long ago I interviewed Carly Fiorina, drawing this issue out over and over again. I’ve talked to people inside the McCain camp about it. It’s not just about Ledbetter, which the more in tune understand, including Fiorina. It’s about families, which often need a woman’s income. It would seem obvious that when it comes down to women Obama will win out. So what’s with all the stories claiming otherwise, especially where HRC supporters are concerned?
Maureen Dowd of the New York Times waxed insultingly poetic recently, using the term “dead-enders” for recalcitrant Hillary supporters, a phrase first used by TNR in an interview where I was quoted on something else, but got tagged anyway for coining the term. Dowd talking specifically about the HRC women who are being wooed by Barack Obama, but still won’t commit.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Barack Obama must continue to grovel to Hillary Clinton’s dead-enders, some of whom mutter darkly that they will not only not vote for him, they will never vote for a man again.
Obama met for an hour Tuesday with three dozen top Hillaryites at a hotel here, seeking their endorsement and beguiling their begrudging. He opened the session by saying that he knew there had been frustration about what they saw as sexism during the primary. …
So, Obama went to see 36 “Hillaryites,” giving a nod to their “frustration” about the sexism displayed during the primary. Something that was proven, by the way. So, we’ve got 36 women. Check.
But wait a minute. Emily’s list founder Ellen Malcom weighed in on the same meeting:
“He talked about his concerns about some of the sexism in the course of the campaign,” said Ellen Malcolm, president of the political group EMILY’s List and a key Clinton supporter. “But essentially the meeting was forward-looking.”
Not exactly the same take as Ms. Dowd’s, now is it? Hey, but “unity” and women rallying around Obama, especially if they’re HRC supporters, isn’t as big a story.
Nor is a story like Susan Estrich wrote that some HRC fundraisers are holding a grudge because they won’t be “equal” to Obama’s money people. Seriously? Or that some of the moneybags are whining because, well, this is just too stupid: “All they want is invitations to events and the trinkets and titles that prove they are part of the team, the sort of things that are easy to give and ridiculous to withhold.” Democrats are going to help elect John McCain because Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who has the nerve to call Obama “aloof,” won’t get, for instance, an ambassadorship under Obama?
These may be important gossip items, but just as important was the Los Angeles Times headline in an article entitled: Women voters lining up behind Obama McCain hopes to lure Clinton loyalists. But polls show they are staying Democratic.
Mind you, this was posted on June 16th, just a couple of weeks after the nomination fight was settled:
… Now that the Democratic marathon is over, Clinton supporters like Authenreith are siding heavily with Obama over McCain, polls show. And Obama has taken a wide lead among female voters, belying months of political chatter and polls of primary voters suggesting that disappointment over Clinton’s defeat might block the Illinois senator from enjoying his party’s historic edge among women.
The rancor peaked two weeks ago with televised images of furious Clinton loyalists protesting a Democratic Party meeting in Washington to settle a dispute over Florida and Michigan delegates.
“There are women still struggling with a real sense of grief that Hillary is not the nominee,” said Maren Hesla, who runs campaign programs for EMILY’s List, a group that promotes female candidates who support abortion rights. But that sense “will grow smaller with every day that passes from the nomination battles.” …
A recent Women’s Voices Women’s Vote survey released in late July reveals even more evidence that when it comes to women, especially unmarried women, Obama is not only winning them, but crushing John McCain in the process. In fact, according to this survey, even HRC supporters have come on board in droves. Self-interest is a powerful motivator.
A recent poll of unmarried women in battleground states conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and commissioned by the Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund underscores the critical importance of unmarried women to the progressive base. This survey shows unmarried women moving to Obama in the post-primary period and anchoring his support among women overall. Moreover, there is very little drop-off in these women’s engagement in this election after the Clinton loss.
… Among likely (unmarried women) voters, Barack Obama holds a convincing 61 to 29 percent lead over John McCain in the presidential battleground. This is a commanding lead and it reflects both movement toward Obama, and more decisively away from McCain, in the post- primary period among likely voters.
… As we see in the Gallup tracking, while Obama improved among married women in the post- primary period, the Democrat still manages a 45 – 45 percent “tie” with McCain. In 2006, married women split evenly in the congressional elections and in 2004, supported George Bush by an 11 point margin (44 – 55 percent Bush). In contrast, unmarried women consistently delivered huge margins to progressives candidates, supporting Kerry 62 – 37 percent in 2004 and Democratic candidates by a 65 – 32 percent margin in 2006. …
But defying reality there are the diehard anti-Obama zealots who say they won’t even vote for Obama if Hillary is chosen as vice president. These are the people getting all the publicity, including here at Pajamas Media, in an article written by DC editor Jennifer Rubin with an attention-grabbing headline which was music to GOP ears: Hillary Supporters Are Mad and They’re Not Going to Take It Anymore!
What if Hillary is given the VP slot? Murphy says that it would not “officially” change the PAC’s position although it “doesn’t mean some members” wouldn’t be affected by a “changed landscape.” Murphy is emphatic: “She [Hillary] deserves to be at the top of the ticket.”
… She and her followers have been dismissed, she explains as a “Republican front.” She says that is nonsense. “We’re all Democrats here,” she declares. She says the attitude of the Obama team is “We have a new base. We have a new coalition.” She says “What a joke. We are the base. We are the people who turn out to vote in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida.”
The message is clear from the anti-Obama zealots. Nothing less than Obama relinquishing the nomination will do. This is the stuff of fantasyland, not effective political activism.
It’s why other Clintonites like Christina Celdano is on a mission to rip the scab off the lies from the main anti-Obama zealot group, “PUMA,” by outing their Republican members, whom she rightly labels “Republican shills.” Along with Patrick McKinnion, who dismantles swiftboating smears from PUMA and their affiliated sites, including the infamous Obama birth certificate fantasy, these two Hillaryites have waded into the anti-Obama waters willing to prove false what so many others are willing to elevate into some huge movement able to take Obama down.
Of course, Republicans are giddy at the prospect. Who can blame them? That’s why many journalists are willing to give voice to the HRC lunatic fringe, when the truth is that if Obama doesn’t win it’s about a much larger issue. That is, letting Republicans define him through ads like “Celebrity” and “The One,” while refusing to hit back.
Rasmussen shows the damage already, which I’ve been talking about for weeks, with McCain actually leading by one point, if “leaners” are included. This isn’t about the small number of disaffected HRC supporters, because most Hillary supporters will come home in November. It’s about Barack Obama allowing John McCain to define him first, while Obama and his team are too busy running an inevitability campaign.
Obama’s doing just fine with women, including the majority of HRC supporters who will vote for Obama in the end. His problem is that he’s losing altitude with everyone else. It’s the same problem he had at the end of the primaries when Hillary Clinton was beating him in state after state. It’s not going away by itself.