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Archive for Sunday, March 2, 2008

Obama gains support among white men

March 2, 2008

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— For months, the story line of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary was women voters, black voters, Latino voters.

But a strange thing has happened on the trail to the Democratic nomination: Beginning most notably with Super Tuesday voting in California, and in subsequent contests leading to what could be Tuesday's final showdown in Texas and Ohio, white men have flocked to Barack Obama.

Meet Birney Young. The 63-year-old retired San Jose bounty hunter is not afraid to say what he feels: He can't stand Hillary Clinton and never thought he would support a black man for president. Now, he's sending $25 contributions to Obama, the most recent one to help him win in Texas and Ohio.

"I've surprised myself," said Young, who more typically casts protest votes for third-party candidates. "I'm surprised I care. It's the dream he talks about that has awakened me. It overcomes whatever color barrier I have had."

Come Tuesday, if Clinton is to keep her campaign alive, she not only needs to win women and Latinos by the huge margins that secured her victories in larger states, she also needs white men.

They are dubbed the forgotten voting bloc, barely mentioned in Super Tuesday analyses, but recently white males have become the soccer moms of the 2008 Democratic race.

With the races close in Texas and Ohio, how white men vote could make the difference.

"White men are the critical swing vote," posits David Paul Kuhn, who writes for the online site Politico.com and wrote "The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma."

There is a lot of speculation among political experts as to why Clinton is faring poorly among white men and Obama is catching fire.

It ranges from sexism and guilt to party demographics - white males voting in many Democratic primaries tend to be more liberal or are independents, Obama's base. Some speculate baby boomer men are more excited by the prospect of electing a black man than a woman.

The shift coincided with John Edwards leaving the race. Finally, there's Clinton herself, who may have turned off voters, especially men, by recently mocking Obama's rise.

Jason Leith, 39, a private investigator, is attracted by Obama, though not repelled by Clinton. He can recall the exact place, listening to a car radio in a movie theater parking lot, when he first heard Obama speak.

"I like the way he frames the issues," he said.

Yet, when Clinton last week suggested media bias by wondering aloud why she always gets the first debate question, it probably struck men differently than women, said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo.

"She wants to make sure women are identifying with her campaign. By doing that she turns off men. It sounds like complaining, when men would say, 'Get real, just be part of it."'

Clinton supporters say the New York senator's message is resonating among white men in states like Ohio, where the Democratic electorate includes more working-class white male voters, who like her no-nonsense, find-solutions approach.

"The working Democrat likes Hillary a lot better," said Ellen Malcolm, head of the EMILY'S List, which works to elect Democratic women, including Clinton. She also believes Clinton has been the subject of sexist reporting and commentary in the media, reinforcing male stereotypes of women leaders.

Comments

camper 6 years, 9 months ago

Obama is decent. I look at his body language when he debates Clinton. His responses are off the cuff and true. He makes Hillary sound like an alarm clock that won't go off even after you are awake and keep reaching for the stop button.

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