The backbone is an important feature of human anatomy. Vision, muscles, connective tissue, strong heart, powerful brain, locomotive legs are important too. But the backbone is what keeps us standing up.
Today the Boston Globe examines Hillary Clinton’s political backbone. This is not the political backbone of courage and fight which our plucky heroine demonstrates every day, today, and for the past 35 years. The Globe is writing about the political backbone that keeps Hillary standing – women – blue collar women:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is capitalizing on an overlooked strain of feminism in blue-collar women – nurse’s aides, factory workers, farmers, and single mothers – to help fuel her strength among the Democratic candidates for president.
Even many working-class women who have spent their lives in traditional roles at home and work have been animated by Clinton’s effort to shatter what she has called “the highest, hardest glass ceiling.”
In recent interviews, some of these Clinton supporters say that they have been impressed enough by her advocacy for healthcare and children to jettison their previous views of her as a brash, ambitious lawyer and politician. Some said a female president would do things not just differently, but better.
“We need to have a woman president,” said Honey Davis, 64, of Onawa, Iowa, a longtime nurse’s aide who has diabetes. “A woman would be a little more tender-hearted toward the people, and knowledgeable about family issues.”
In addition, Davis said, because of Clinton’s experience watching the wheels of power grind while she was first lady, the New York senator “will have some ways of getting around the old-boy type of thing.”
Clinton is viewed more favorably in general by women than men. Increased support among college-educated and professional women – her peers – helped fuel a late summer surge that nearly doubled her lead in the national polls.
The finger bowl courtesans of Washington are upset that Hillary does not invite them to tea. The finger bowl courtesans complain to their Big Media husbands about mean ol’ Hillary. The finger bowl courtesans start websites and write columns and get the vapors just thinking about that, that, that… Hillary. That mean ol’ Hillary would rather listen to those other… women… than the finger bowl courtesans.
But the backbone of her support, going back to her first US Senate race seven years ago, remains among those who resemble her the least – blue-collar and working-class women, as well as black women. Analysts say she connects with working-class women emotionally by presenting an image as a fighter who has overcome obstacles in her life, and appeals to them politically by offering proposals that would help their pocketbooks. As the most recent polls show her neck-and-neck with Barack Obama in Iowa and the gap closing in New Hampshire, one constituency she consistently wins hands-down is working-class women. A Boston Globe poll this month of likely primary voters in New Hampshire suggested that Clinton has higher support among Democratic women without a college degree than among better-educated women. Several national polls have shown the same trend.
Clinton’s campaign has tried to exploit this advantage with several events geared toward working-class women, including a series of evening telephone calls called “The Dishes are Done,” when Clinton gets on the line to speak with groups of undecided New Hampshire women. [snip]
Last month, she regaled an audience in Manchester, N.H., with stories about how awkward it was at her Little Rock, Ark., law firm when she became visibly pregnant, and how she didn’t know what to do when baby Chelsea was crying inconsolably. [snip]
The Globe poll found that New Hampshire Democrats of both genders consider healthcare the biggest issue facing the country, ahead of the war in Iraq. Clinton has campaigned proudly on her bid to enact universal healthcare in the early 1990s, despite the fact that she failed. She also speaks often of how her first job out of law school was at the Children’s Defense Fund.
“My guess is it’s a combination of her experience on healthcare, and being a woman,” said Schildkraut.
Ann Lewis, Clinton’s top adviser on women’s outreach, attributed the candidate’s success with blue-collar women to her history of working on healthcare and children’s issues, as well as her personal story.
“They know she’s been a good mother, and that’s very important to them,” Lewis said. “Here’s someone who’s juggled a job, raised a family, and volunteered. That’s what they think people should do.”
This backbone vote has to be roused in Iowa and the early primary states.
Democratic women in Iowa who haven’t participated in caucuses in the recent past will be targeted by a national group seeking to boost Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The campaign by Emily’s List is called Iowa Women Vote and comes as part of an intensifying effort to reach out to particular groups of new voters who could be key to success for the winning candidate in Iowa.
The initiative includes both a new Web site at www.yougogirl.com and eight-page, how-to-caucus booklets to be sent to Iowa women who didn’t caucus four years ago. About 100,000 Iowa women will get some kind of mailing.
“Caucusing can be fun! See for yourself!” announces the Web site, where women share stories about caucuses they have attended and a step-by-step guide explains what happens at a caucus. [snip]
Maren Hesla, director of the women’s vote program for the group, said Tuesday that an estimated 80 percent of active registered Democratic women in Iowa did not attend the 2004 presidential caucuses. “So there’s a large universe of women we can be targeting,” she said.
An October online survey commissioned by the group showed Clinton leads among women who were somewhat less likely to caucus, Hesla said. The survey also identified a need to “demystify the caucus process,” with a majority of respondents saying it would be helpful to have a Web site with caucus information, she said.
The Associated Press surveys the current state of the Democratic presidential race and Hillary’s backbone support:
The campaign’s first voting state has become so vital that all the Democrats are focused on it. It’s where front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton hopes to begin a no-stumbles sprint to the nomination, and it’s the one place her opponents have a chance to slow her.
Most state and national polls indicate Clinton is strong, but her opponents see reason for hope in just the past couple of weeks. [snip]
Yet if Clinton can win Iowa, she seems headed toward the nomination. She has comfortable leads in the states that follow and tens of millions of dollars to continue a vigorous fight.
First she must get past Iowa, which she has called her “toughest state.”
The state of play in Iowa with 45 pledged delegates:
State polls show a tight race among Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards with the rest of the field lagging behind. But polling is notoriously difficult among potential caucus participants, making the true state of play very difficult to gauge.
Clinton’s strategists believe a key source of potential strength lies with women who have never attended one of the state’s 1,784 precinct caucuses. The campaign is building a “buddy system” to match experienced caucus participants with the novices, and is offering transportation and child care.
The Obama campaign has a similar strategy with young voters, connecting them with veteran caucus goers. The “Barack Stars” are high school seniors supporting the Illinois senator – they can vote in caucuses if they’ll turn 18 by the time of the general election Nov. 4 – and he has strong support among college students.
Edwards is concentrating on a strategy that served him well four years ago when he finished a close second in Iowa – bringing out the reliable caucus goers, particularly in rural areas. He’s the only Democratic candidate to have visited all 99 Iowa counties, and the 2004 vice presidential nominee has gotten some key labor support here.
The state of play in New Hampshire with 22 pledged delegates:
Clinton’s once-commanding lead in New Hampshire has diminished somewhat in recent weeks, but it’s still in the range of 11 to 15 percentage points. Her strategy here is to build a New Hampshire firewall that would withstand an unpredictable outcome in Iowa.
Clinton has traveled to each of New Hampshire’s 10 counties and has secured the backing of most of the Democratic establishment. The campaign has made more than 250,000 phone calls to voters.
Obama has started advertising in New Hampshire and is courting Democrats as well as the independents who can participate in the party’s primary. His campaign stages house-to-house canvassing and phone banks every night and weekend, with 800 people knocking on doors one weekend in November. “When people begin to decide, we’re going to be at their doors,” said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.
Edwards is in a distant third place here. He has more than 60 staff on the ground and bought air time touting his health care plan in commercials that were already airing in Iowa.
The state of play in Michigan with 128 pledged delegates (Hillary pretty much has won this state already because most of the other candidates have foolishly insulted Michigan and pulled their names from the ballot):
The parties wanted a state-run primary on Jan. 15, and the Michigan Supreme Court gave the go-ahead this week. It could be irrelevant to the candidates, however. They’ve signed a pledge to skip the state if it goes ahead and holds the contest that early -against the early-primary rules of the national party.
The state of play in Nevada with 25 pledged delegates:
Clinton is far-and-away the leader in Nevada with double the support of Obama in a recent poll.
The Clinton and Obama campaigns have been working with experienced Iowa caucus organizers, developing a precinct-by-precinct system similar to Iowa’s. Edwards moved staff from Nevada to Iowa over the summer, but recently has added organizers back to his Nevada operation.
The campaigns are awaiting a coveted endorsement expected in early December – that of the 60,000-member Culinary Union, which represents most employees on the Las Vegas strip.
The state of play in South Carolina with 45 pledged delegates:
Clinton holds a wide lead in most polls, and the campaign is working to reinforce her position in South Carolina amid an expected strong challenge from Obama. He is running to become the first black president, and blacks make up about 50 percent of Democratic primary voters in the state.
Campaign officials note two major advantages for Clinton in the state: her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her strength among older voters and women, no matter what skin color. Former President Clinton remains popular among blacks and has campaigned extensively for his wife here.
Obama has been advertising on three dozen black radio stations across the state – the most recent spot features him talking about growing up without his father.
Edwards, who was born in South Carolina, won the state’s primary in 2004. But he’s been polling a distant third this time. Last week he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to advertise on South Carolina television, touting his roots.
The state of play in Florida with 185 delegates (Hillary has pretty much won this state already too. Hillary is very far ahead in the polls and none of the candidates can campaign in Florida.)
Florida falls under the candidates’ pledge not to campaign in states that violate national party rules in scheduling their nominating contests. Florida plans to hold a primary a week earlier than allowed.
The candidates have not been holding campaign events in Florid, but still have been aggressively raising money there.
The Super Duper February 5, 2008 25 states with minimum 1,370 delegates:
With 370 pledged delegates, California remains the biggest prize. Clinton maintains a wide lead in California polls, and has launched “Hillcorps,” an extensive volunteer outreach effort. Obama is holding “Camp Obama” training for volunteer organizers in California and in other Feb. 5 states such as Georgia, Missouri, Alabama and Illinois, his home state.
Clinton is expected to cruise in her home state of New York and neighboring New Jersey. Besides the large delegate states, Obama’s campaign is focusing on caucus states like Colorado and Minnesota where local organizations are necessary for victory.
Edwards does not have staff in Feb. 5 states, banking that a win in Iowa can propel him to victory elsewhere, particularly Southern states such as Arkansas and his home state of North Carolina.
Richardson is counting on strong support in New Mexico and other Western states, including Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming. But he’ll have to beat expectations elsewhere to make it that far.
Things look good with 40 days until the first voting date (remember those absentee ballots though, Hillary Team).