Margie Omero | September 3, 2008
It's a little too early to tell the full effect of Senator McCain's selection of Governor Palin as his running mate. In particular, Palin's biography has created numerous side dialogues--chiefly among women--about working mothers, teen pregnancy, abstinence-only education and raising children with special needs. Surveys on these topics will take a little time, and some care and nuance.
But until then, we do have good preliminary data about the Palin Effect across gender and party. But bare in mind that the timing of both conventions and the Palin pick announcement (not to mention Labor Day and Hurricane Gustav) make it difficult to identify exactly which bounces are working where.
The Palin Effect has rallied white Republican women; Obama gains with other groups
By contrast, Democrats and independents across gender lines move toward Obama post-Palin. This movement has mostly been larger than McCain's movement among Republican women (independent men: +7 Obama; independent women: +5; Democratic men and women: +8 each). In fact, Obama now leads with white independent women (46% Obama, 39% McCain).
Among women, Obama-Biden now have the advantage in "experience"
According to a new EMILY's List Women's Monitor survey of women (conducted 8/31 to 9/1), the Obama-Biden ticket now has the advantage on "experience." In their last Women's Monitor from early August, half (51%) of women said "having the experience, background, and knowledge to be President" described McCain better, compared to 16% saying it described Obama better.
In this current survey, the numbers are now almost reversed. Over half (52%) say the Obama-Biden ticket has more experience, while only 37% say McCain-Palin is more experienced. Not only did the Palin pick negate McCain's experience "argument," as many commented, but it actually completely erased McCain's advantage, among women, in just a few short weeks.
(Disclosure: EMILY's List is an organization helping pro-choice Democratic women. It is also a Momentum Analysis client, but we do not work on Women's Monitor.)
Women do not just use candidate gender to decide who represents them
During the Democratic primaries I noted that Hillary Clinton voters were even more likely to weigh the issues when making their choice. The Women's Monitor results confirm this pattern--gender alone won't move women voters to McCain-Palin. (At least among non-Republicans.)
Majorities of women said Palin's positions on issues such as abortion, education, and stem-cell research made them more unfavorable toward her (56%, 55%, and 52%, respectively). In fact, a majority of women (53%) say Obama-Biden is more in touch with the issues that affect women than is McCain-Palin (35%).
The McCain campaign recently proffered "this campaign is not about issues." Indeed, Palin's speech last Friday attempted to attract Hillary Clinton supporters, offering an identical gender as opposed to a similar platform. These results, however, show that issues do matter to women voters.