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Black Democrats: A Gender Gap

An interesting trend has emerged as Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) has solidified her lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Previous divisions -- by race and by gender -- in Clinton's support seem to be narrowing. Overall, men and women both give Clinton a wide advantage over Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), and she holds a narrow edge among black voters overall. But not all of the race and gender gaps have closed.

Black men and black women head into the Democratic primary and caucus season with somewhat different outlooks on Clinton and Obama. Combining the last two Washington Post-ABC News surveys, African American men are much more likely than African American women to see Obama as the Democratic field's most honest and trustworthy; black women are more likely to see Clinton as the best representative of Democratic "values."

In a head-to-head competition between Clinton and Obama, black men are evenly divided (44 percent for Obama, 44 percent for Clinton), while black women support Clinton (52 percent to 35 percent).

Over the summer, the two candidates ran about even among black people of both sexes; 42 percent of black men supported each candidate, while 46 percent of black women were for Obama and 45 percent for Clinton. But since then, black women have become a part of Clinton's base.

Both black men and black women express high levels of satisfaction with the Democratic field and both are strongly behind their chosen candidate. Looking ahead to November 2008, both groups would support Clinton over her most likely Republican competitors, and more than six in 10 in each group say she is the Democrat with the best chance of getting elected president.

But in considering the primary field, black men and black women diverge on the questions of honesty and Democratic core values. Also, Clinton's opportunity to become the country's first female president is a likely motivator for black women: 35 percent of African American say they are more likely to vote for her to make history.

Q: Regardless of who you may support, who do you think is the most honest and trustworthy?

              Clinton   Obama   Edwards
Black men       30        50        8
Black women     43        38        5

Q: Regardless of who you may support, who do you think best reflects the core values of the Democratic Party?

              Clinton   Obama   Edwards
Black men       38        39       14
Black women     53        34        6

For more on Washington Post-ABC News polling, visit

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  November 13, 2007; 4:09 PM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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Can someone at the Post tell us the Black sample size on which they are making such broad and definitive conclusions about African American voters on? I can't seem to find the actual raw number?


Posted by: Cornell | November 14, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

When are the democrats going to start talking about the national need for a review of, and attention to, ethics in public service?

Rudy's COOKED with yesterday's revelation of his connection to the Manhattan Ethics Scandal. And if the democrats don't take the lead, EVERY New York candidate just might go down in flames. See:

Posted by: Frank Brady | November 15, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I applaude the Post for doing this type of survey work. I hope to see more of it.


Posted by: Shelley Pope | November 15, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't like how 35 percent of black women would vote for Clinton just to make history. I do think it would be nice to see a female president or an African American president but I think the most important decision right is who is the most likely to get our country out of the hole we are currently in. Whomever that may be would have my vote.

Posted by: lauralion | November 15, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Lauralion I completely agree with you. I feel like people should be asking themselves more questions about which candidate is more trustworthy and would reflect the values of the democratic party instead of who would make the best history. I think it is interesting though that they only include Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, because if I was going to pick a top three, Richardson would defintitly be in there. I think he has presented himself better than Edwards. I think an Obama/Richardson or Clinton/Richardson campaign would be awesome. He would be a great vice president.

Posted by: GracieM | November 15, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

The sad thing is this country isn't ready to elect a woman, or an african-american. Do you really think that conservative southern dems will vote for them. Unless Edwards gains about 30 points this next year, we may be looking at another republican imho. Thanks.

Posted by: Patrick Hilyard | November 16, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I would love it if a woman could be elected president, but I am afraid it won't happen yet. I live in Kentucky, and while this is not the deep south, it is southern enough for the redneck vote to keep a woman from winning.If it were not for the fact that many of the men cannot make a living by themselves, they would prefer their "old ladies" to be home and out of the workplace. They sure don't think women have enough sense to be president. I suppose that is because all of these males are of superior intellects...NOT!!!!

Posted by: Becky | November 16, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I think it is pretty sad that there is even a question about color and sex when what we should really be comparing are our ideals and values. This countries bigggest problem is our hypocritical puritanism. No wonder Europe thinks we are immature children with big toys. They're getting a laugh now -- look at the almighty dollar. Get it together people!

Posted by: dogtownva | November 16, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Aren't you kind of abusing the word "base" when you write "But since then, black women have become a part of Clinton's base."?

I think the latest WaPo-ABC News poll had her at 49% among all Democratic voters, and you say that she's at 52% among black women? So a segment of the population for which she gets barely more support than she does among all Democrats is part of her "base"? Wouldn't the "base" consist of the demographic groups for which she has overwhelming support?

Posted by: Chris S. | November 16, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Barack will not get elected as long as we say that he can't. It is so sad when we think of voting for Hillary Clinton,when as far as I know has done nothing for the Black community except get our votes for her husband. Barack has worked for years for low income families, union workers and trying to keep black men from being put to death. What has Hillary done, someone please tell me.

Posted by: ehw1948 | November 17, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Who is the Washington Post surveying again? This African American,female is voting for Obama. Why? Because I trust his judgment! Because he has guts!! Because he has the wherewithall to approach the world and say that we Americans have once again shifted the course of our destiny.."WE'RE BACK! Hillary cannot do that. She is a known quantity and unfortunately alot of people don't like what they know about her. GO BARACK!!

Posted by: Not buying it | November 21, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Have we forgotten all of the sex mess this country was in when the Clinton's were in the white house, do we really want to go through that again? I don't. Hillary wants us to believe she is so strong, she knew her cheating husband was cheating with all these women and God only knows how many there truly were, but she still stood by him, which is her right, but don't tell me how strong you are. It takes a strong women to leave, not to stay. America needs a fresh start and we can't get that with Hillary Clinton. That's why I'm for Obama.

Posted by: ehw1948 | November 23, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: votenic | December 19, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Hillary/Bills purported edge among Black voters is a strange anomaly. Granted that all the candidates meet the qualifications for the office, none of them have experience serving in it. Hillary/Bill claims that the experience of her husband accrues to her because she was an eye witness to everything that went on (oops, almost everything) and she has a leg up on Obama. What is intriguing is that after years and years and years of marches and sit ins, and demonstrations, and fire hoses, and doors slammed in faces, and second class treatment, Black people have risen to a point where they believe that now that things are equal race no longer is a leading edge issue when it comes to chosing leaders. That's good, but it suggests that the deal is done and there is no longer a need to push for a Black person who is highly qualified, and how dare anyone suggest that their energy go that way.

Black Americans may be the only ethnic group in this country that would be adamant about not showing solidarity for one of their own for the highest office in the land and in the World. Most ethnic groups would say "okay you got our vote and if you don't do right by us or if you (fornicate) up we will kick your dairy air. But not Black Americans, who will say with great dignity that they are not going to vote for someone because he is Black. That is good.

But it begs the question as to what all that marching, and singing, and beatings, and sit ins, and freedom rides was for? It's as if this one event which will shatter the glass ceiling forever means nothing. Once Jackie Robinson (sorry for the sports metaphor) broke the color line in major league baseball, then race mattered little. The positive implications of a Black person contending for President of the United States are huge and will go a long toward finally drawing a curtain on the dark legacy of discrimination in this country. After that then race won't matter.

But what of the woman candidate? There is a vast difference in the historical path of women in America, who have always been on the right hand of privilege in America. The White women in this country were in many instances the help mates to oppressors, although they were in some instances repressed themselves. But it was their fathers, uncles, brothers, husbands, and even sons who kept them for a long time in repressive relationships and conditions, but they were more often than not on the receiving end of much greater benevolence than blacks. There is a difference in the two paths.

Posted by: GW | December 31, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

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