Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The "Fed-Up Female" Vote? (via Kevin Drum)

One of Kevin Drum's correspondents expresses some sentiments that also came out, with an angrier edge, in Gloria Steinem's New York Times op-ed piece just before the New Hampshire primary.

Is the analysis here actually correct? I don't know, though it's not implausible. What is clear is that Kevin's correspondent is not alone in feeling the way she does. Furthermore, my impression is that she is right in saying that there has been a big increase in female turnout this primary season, particularly on the Democratic side (which helps explain why there has been a big increase in Democratic turnout overall) ... and the voting patterns so far suggest that there really are significant generational differences in the kinds of women who do and don't support Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

--Jeff Weintraub
Kevin Drum (Washington Monthly)
January 21, 2008

THE FED-UP FEMALE.... Reader Mary S. emails to echo something that I've heard from more than a few women:
The most important and strangely overlooked development in this primary season so far may be the historic level (in terms both of hard numbers and percentage of the electorate) of women turning out to vote. If that trend persists in the general, none of the Republicans has a chance, including McCain.

What I think may be happening out there is this: you have a new generation of women, with entirely different political experiences, attitudes and needs than the generation before them, just reaching the age (40-60) when a generation really begins to show up at the polls and exercise its fullest political power. And you have a candidate who is uniquely positioned to bring them, in greater numbers than ever before, into the political process.

Remember (or, if you are too young to remember, give some thought to the fact that) it was men (the "angry white male"), much more than women, entering that age group back in the late 70s who ushered in, gave energy to and sustained the Reagan Revolution. In the Boomer generation, which is now coming into its fullest power as the voters of the WWII and Silent generations increasingly depart the scene, the greatest energy and desire for political change and for recognition of their (mostly overlooked and neglected) accomplishments and needs, comes from women. And that is true across all classes and races. This development will bode well for the Democrats, whether the general election candidate is Hillary or not. But, if Hillary Clinton turns out to be the first politician to benefit from this development, it will probably be because, as a woman of that generation, she is just in a better position to hear, see and speak to it, and is less invested in the old (traditionally male) political narratives (in which such a development is close to unimaginable, except, for some (Chris Matthews?), perhaps as nightmare or catastrophe), than the men.

As the angry white men shuffle off the stage, another revolution may be in the works — this one fed by the energy of the "fed up female."
Kevin Drum 6:08 PM