Re: Missing the Swiftboat

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Karen’s post below correctly captures the fascination the DC political-journalistic axis has with Hillary and the “gender card,” and the almost universal agreement that it was a mistake. How big mistake, that’s what people debate. I’m struck that women seem to think it’s a bigger mistake than men.

At both the GOP panel I attended and on television today, I heard female pundits and staffers alike marvel that such a disciplined campaign would do such a “disservice” (in the words of Rudy’s Katie Levinson) to its candidate. Someone else said that to bring gender up was “insulting. On television this morning, the Hill’s AB Stoddard said something along the same lines, characterizing the campaign’s mere suggestion of boys ganging up on girls as “whining.” Her slight downtick in the latest Newsweek poll proves she shouldn’t have done it, right?

But wait: That MSNBC debate had almost two million viewers. That is not especially large. Fox hits it almost every weeknight. (Though it’s triple MS’s usual primetime ratings.) The chances that anyone polled by Newsweek would have

  1. seen the debate and
  2. followed the coverage closely enough to discern the brief moment when the Hillary camp seemed to be saying she was ganged up on

are, well, let’s say small. So let’s not put too much stock in that poll as a measure of her debate performance and its aftermath.

However, recent polling about Hillary does give a hint as to why DC pundits, especially women, would find the “ganging up on a girl” message so off-putting. Hillary is most unpopular with college-educated women in middle to high income brackets (PDF link to Gallup’s general breakdown here).

Does that describe any Washington sub category you know?

Hillary is the most popular with middle to low income women without a college education which describes a lot of people who don’t have BlackBerrys and don’t live in Washington. Before we decide that Hillary’s (very subtle) invocation of gender was a mistake, you might want to think about whether her strongest supporters would be as offended by “hiding” behind gender as the DC political class is. Those women who most like Hillary might have actually experienced a fair among of ganging-up on, and thus would react differently when the victim does something about it.

UPDATE: Hillary’s numbers may have softened. The newest Rassmussen suggests so, but I am not sure we can say it was her debate performance that did it.