Why Aren't More Men Voting for Clinton?

Washington Matters

Why Aren't More Men Voting for Clinton?

 A female reader, in a pointed e-mail last week, asked why the press isn't paying more attention to the fact that so many men  "won't vote for Hillary,"  clearly implying that we should and if we do, we'll find it's all sexism. So I did pay more attention, but I came up with a different answer.


With a primary set for Tuesday in Maryland, my home state, I find myself witnessing painful discussions among those of my friends who are Democrats, especially women. These are generally people who are very involved in public affairs, the kind who usually know what they believe and what they want without hesitation. But this time, they are sorely conflicted, changing their minds almost daily between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Three comments from women at a birthday brunch (reported from memory) tell the story:


 "I really think Obama is the better choice and has a better chance of winning, but this may be the last chance in my lifetime to vote for a woman for president. How can I pass that up?"


"I pulled out a yellow legal pad and listed all the pros and cons. Obama won, but I'm voting for Hillary anyway. I can't explain it."   


"I have to vote for Hillary because of all she's done for women like me."


I wonder, then, if my e-mail writer is asking the wrong question. It's not why aren't more men voting for Hillary, it's why are so many women so committed to her that makes for a fascinating examination. One answer, as Margie Omero argues at Pollster.com is that women are drawn to Hillary because they share her ideology and outlook or because they think she will look out for them economicaly. There's surely some truth in that, but something else is also going on.


Could it be that Democratic men and women are doing the same analysis, but the men are sticking with it while women-- because of the discrimination they've faced throughout their lives and careers -- are deciding that gender IS important. This seems to be slightly less the case for younger women, who are more likely to support Obama, either because they face less discrimination as a result of those who blazed a path for them -- or because they just haven't yet had to face it.