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Obama's New Challenge: White Women?

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 5, 2008 8:16PM

2008_06_obamawomen.jpgOver the weekend, as DNC Chairman Howard Dean worked to reach a compromise on the contested Michigan and Florida delegates, we were stunned by this video of Clinton-supporter Harriet Christian. Later, Christian appeared on Fox News, being interviewed by Neil Cavuto, where she dropped this line regarding Obama and the black vote: "Ninety-nine percent of the blacks don't even know why they're voting for [Obama]." Is Christian just one upset Clinton supporter or is her attitude indicative of a larger rift in the party?

Some pundits are now claiming this demographic of disenfranchised white women is Obama's next hurdle to unifying the Democratic party following a long, drawn-out, and at times nasty primary season.

They are lifetime Democrats who spurned him for Hillary Clinton in the primaries and now are threatening to stay home or even vote for Republican John McCain.

Amid all the talk about a first black president, some women are deeply disappointed, in some cases furious, that Clinton's own historic campaign fell short and that Obama's campaign undercut her along the way.

Her loss was painful for women who have encountered sex discrimination themselves, especially older women who saw her as the best hope for electing a female president in their lifetimes.

A report earlier this week from the AP showed Obama with an edge in the youth vote of all races while Clinton's most popular demographic was, indeed, older white women. And a recent study by The Pew Research Center seems to further the claim, showing Obama's support among white women slipping considerably. But Democratic strategists suggest that such a gap will close as the general election draws closer.
“There is some sense of the visceral investment with Clinton,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic strategist. Lake believes once the general election is under way, these same white women will gradually move away from McCain over issues, with the expectation that Clinton will campaign on Obama’s behalf if he is the nominee.
“There is no question that white women were — especially older women, not young women — Hillary Clinton’s base in the primary, and there is going to be some repair work that has to be done,” Democratic analyst Anna Greenberg said. “There is no reason to believe that these Democratic white women are not pursuable.

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