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Posted by on Jun 11, 2008 in Politics | 9 comments

Gallup: Obama Gains Support Among Women Voters After Clinton Exit

Gallup has good news for Democratic presumptive Presidential nominee Barack Obama: a new poll shows that since Senator Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed him he has started picking up support among woman voters and broadened his general election lead over Republican John McCain:

Since Hillary Clinton decided to concede the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama last week, Obama has established a lead over Republican John McCain in general-election polling. Obama’s gains have come more from women than men, though he has picked up among both groups in recent days.

Obama’s lead among women has now expanded from five percentage points to 13, while his deficit among men has shrunk from six points to two.

These figures are based on aggregated Gallup Poll Daily tracking interviews with national registered voters conducted May 27-June 2 (the week immediately before Obama clinched the nomination on June 3), which showed Obama and McCain tied at 46%, and June 5-9 (the five days since it was reported that Clinton would suspend her campaign), which show Obama ahead, 48% to 42%. Obama clinched the nomination on the evening of June 3, and the news media reported Clinton would suspend her campaign on the evening of June 4. Thus, the data give a clear picture of voter support before and after Clinton’s exit.

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Clinton had led both McCain and Obama among women while she was in the race — and Obama seems to be picking up some of those voters’ support:

At least for now, he seems to be matching Clinton’s performance among women versus McCain, given his current 13-point lead among female voters.

One of Clinton’s core groups of supporters during the nomination phase of the campaign was older women. During the last few days of her active candidacy, Clinton led McCain by 51% to 41% among women aged 50 and older, while Obama trailed McCain among this group, 46% to 43%.

Since Clinton suspended her campaign, older women’s vote preferences have shifted toward Obama, so that he now enjoys a six-point advantage over McCain.

Gallup also finds:

Obama has made major gains in the past few days among married women, erasing McCain’s former 52% to 40% lead and pulling into a 45% to 45% tie. Meanwhile, the vote preferences among married men (a solid McCain group) and unmarried men and women (solid Obama groups) have changed little since Clinton decided to end her White House bid.

What does this mean? Gallup suggests — and the polls do indicate — that women voters are now taking a “second look” at Obama which is why his lead in this demographic is now about the same over McCain as was Clinton’s.

Obama’s challenge in the general-election campaign will be to bring core Democratic groups that did not strongly support him in the primaries — women, voters with less formal education, and conservative Democrats — back into the fold. He appears to be already doing that among women. However, it is not clear whether this is just a temporary rally in support for him upon clinching the nomination, or whether he will be able to sustain a high level of support from female voters for the duration of the campaign.

The Republicans read the polls, too. So their goal is going to be to halt Obama from making these inroads and to actively court Clinton’s disappointed and in many cases angry voters. Obama’s goal and his party’s will be to draw sharp distinctions between the Democrats and Republicans to underscore how a vote for McCain will not be the same as a vote would have been for Clinton, in terms of ideology, values or political consequences.

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