Saturday, October 11, 2008

As the U.S. Economy Sputters, Working-Class Women Shift to Obama

A hugely important shift in working-class women to Obama (from the front page of today's WSJ):

The exchange was emblematic of the sharp divide among white, working-class female voters -- a key voting bloc that has largely rejected Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. But four weeks and a $700 billion financial-bailout package later, some attitudes are shifting. Sen. Obama is now picking up support from some of the very women who until recently disdained him. As U.S. economic concerns intensify, ranks of blue-collar females are reconsidering everything from Sen. Obama's policies to their comfort level with his race.

Working-class women, generally defined as those in blue-collar and service jobs earning less than $50,000 a year -- comprise almost a quarter of American voters. Sen. Obama trailed Sen. John McCain by 12 points among these women just two weeks ago, but has since closed the gap. According to a Wall Street Journal poll conducted the weekend of Oct. 4, the two senators are now running even, with 45% of such voters giving each candidate the nod. The reversal is one of the main reasons Sen. Obama is gaining ground in swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana -- all of which have large rural and blue-collar populations.

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Crossing Over

As the U.S. Economy Sputters, Working-Class Women Shift to Obama

"I feel like a white female or a white male has fewer opportunities than the black man or the black woman because of all the special treatment and special programs they have gotten," said Marla Hightower. "If Obama is elected, what's going to happen?"

"That is just stupid," Ginny McMillin, the head of her local, shot back. "People are saying 'we don't want a black man.' Shame on America for thinking that!"

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