From: Mark Penn, Chief Strategist
RE: Women Changing America
They are a majority of the students at college. They are a majority of the students at law school. They are heading a record number of households and buy the majority of cars in this country. They are a majority of those who voted in 2004. They are the majority by far (58%) of the Democratic Party today and Democratic primary voters. They are changing America. They are America's women.
Women are and will be a powerful force in American politics this presidential election. They were the critical swing voters in the last three elections, and they promise to again play a pivotal role in this one.
You see it on the campaign trail. About 65% of those who come to Hillary's rallies are women. Often they bring their children to see and meet the Senator. Often they bring their moms. Many women have a strong connection to Hillary's campaign, and they are increasing their support in many ways. This connection spans the generations and will be showcased this week by Hillary’s campaign.
On Monday, Hillary kicks off the week with an appearance on The View and speaks at the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee’s Annual Fall Campaign Luncheon. On Tuesday, she travels to New Hampshire to announce a new policy proposal to help working parents.
On Wednesday , nearly 1,000 women contributors from 47 states around the country will convene for a women’s summit in support of the Clinton campaign – a full-day event that will raise well over $1 million. A majority of the small donors to the campaign are women. And on Thursday, Hillary will discuss the importance of health care for women when she participates in the Presidential Candidate Forums organized by the Federation of American Hospitals and Families USA and hosts a conference call with health care professionals from the American Medical Women’s Association.
The week’s events will underscore why Hillary enjoys such deep support among women voters by emphasizing how her strength and experience make her the candidate best able to deliver change on the issues most important to them.
A look at recent polls shows that Hillary is now winning virtually all demographic groups but that this lead has been built on a strong base of women. In the latest ABC/Washington Post poll, Hillary leads overall with 53% of the vote compared with 20% for Obama. But among women Democratic primary voters, she has 57% of the vote as compared to 15% for the next challenger – giving her a margin of 42 points among women. (She also leads among men by 22 points.) The most recent October Gallup poll shows a similar pattern - a 32-point lead among women and an 8-point lead among men.
This dramatic lead with women cuts across all age groups, underscoring the degree to which women both young and old back Hillary. She enjoys her deepest support among working and middle class women - people who care most about issues like health care and child care, issues that Hillary has worked on throughout her life in public service.
The latest Des Moines Register poll in Iowa shows a 13-point lead among women caucus goers and a 6-point lead overall. In New Hampshire, the latest CNN/WMUR poll has her leading by 29 points among women compared with a 23-point lead overall. The Marist poll that came out on Sunday shows a similar trend.
And we are seeing the same pattern in the general election polls. Hillary is beating Rudy Giuliani by 8 points overall in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll, and leads by a strong 18 points among women.
So perhaps the most important impact of women's support for Hillary will be felt if she is the party's nominee. In our own polling, 94% of young women tell us that they are more likely to turn out and vote if the first woman nominee appears on the ballot. Often, we have seen increased turnout for members of certain groups that make up a small part of the electorate. Women are 54% of the electorate and even a 10% increase in turnout among women on top of the current polls would give Hillary a significant edge in a general election, opening up a wide number of states.
In 1996, we learned that the power of the women's vote was being underestimated, something that is happening again in the analysis so far of this election. For women in their 90s, it means having gone full circle from first getting the vote to having a women president. For those who are working, it means breaking the ultimate glass ceiling. And for parents of both genders, it means being able to tell their daughters as well as their sons that they could grow up to be president some day.
So the first woman president would be a big change for America. But as Hillary says, she is not running as a woman candidate - the only reason to vote for her is that you believe she is the most qualified to be president. And it is clear from the patterns we are seeing at the town halls, through fundraising and through the polls, that women may be the driving force behind changing America in 2008.