EMILY's List Argues Obama's Case
By Alec MacGillis
Emily's List, the organization founded to help elect more pro-choice women to governor's offices and Congress, upset some of its supporters and Democratic allies when it spent heavily during the primaries to attack Barack Obama as inferior to Hillary Clinton on issues important to women voters, notably abortion rights.
Now, it wants the world to know that Obama is doing just fine with women voters, thank you very much, despite the group's earlier critiques.
The organization today released the results of a survey it did earlier this month showing that Obama holds a solid lead among women voters -- 51 percent backed Obama and 39 percent John McCain. That gives Obama a larger preconvention lead among women than those enjoyed by either John Kerry in 2004 (one percentage point) or Al Gore in 2000 (nine points). Obama's 12 point lead is also larger than the final margin of victory for Kerry (3 points) and Gore (11 points) among women.
"This is a very solid showing for Senator Obama. In historical terms, it's a showing that augurs well for him," said pollster Geoff Garin, who oversaw the survey.
In the poll, Obama commands near universal support among black women, dominates among Hispanics, and runs close to even among white women. He trails among evangelical Christians but leads among other women who say they attend church regularly. He leads among all generations, though his edge is biggest by far among Generation Y -- those under age 28 -- among whom he leads by 30 points. Somewhat surprisingly, given all the talk of a generation gap in the race, his second biggest margin, 11 points, is with women over the age of 65. But Garin, who replaced pollster Mark Penn in the Clinton campaign in its final months, said that older voters remained the area where Obama most clearly needs to make up ground, because it is with seniors that one sees the biggest deficit between voters' overall leaning toward Democrats and their willingness to support Obama.
The clearest gap in the results came in regard to the qualities voters are looking for in a candidate. Asked whether they want a president who provides hope and optimism, or one who provides safety and security, those polled split evenly, 38 percent for each. Those who sought hope and optimism supported Obama by a 60 point margin; those who sought safety and security backed McCain by 35 points. McCain's edge on safety and security is "a place where Obama has work to do," Garin said, adding that McCain's gap on hope and vision was even larger.
Of course, Clinton's critique of Obama for much of the primaries -- buttressed by Emily's List, which spent more than $1.5 million on the campaign and bundled an additional $855,000 in contributions for her -- was that Obama was not prepared to lead the nation in a "3 A.M." moment of crisis. But the organization's leader, Ellen Malcolm, today rejected the suggestion that it was lingering doubts among Clinton's supporters that was contributing to whatever softness there is in support for Obama among women voters.
Malcolm noted that women in the survey who had positive views of Clinton were supporting Obama, 73-18 percent, whereas 19 percent of those who did not like Clinton were backing Obama, which Malcolm suggested showed a lack of antiObama animus among Clinton supporters.
"The more you like Senator Clinton, the more likely you are to be for Senator Obama," Malcolm said. To further the 'no harm, no foul' notion, she noted that she and Clinton and Michelle Obama would be attending a unity event at the convention next week.
"There's been a tremendous amount of healing ... and Senator Clinton deserves a great deal of credit for that," Malcolm said. "She worked hard to bring us together."
Web Politics Editor
August 20, 2008; 5:45 PM ET
Categories: B_Blog , Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton
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