Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal Online
Superdelegates and pundits have spent much of the last week assessing whether Barack Obama’s skin color makes him unelectable.
Well, here’s another awkward question: Why hasn’t Hillary Clinton been able to win men?
Consider this stunning fact: Sen. Obama has beaten Sen. Clinton among men in 23 of the 29 primaries for which we have exit polls. Even in big electoral states that Sen. Obama famously lost — such as Pennsylvania, California, Texas, New Jersey — Sen. Obama carried more men.
On balance, though, the gender gap has so far played more to Sen. Obama’s advantage. He has more delegates in part because he’s done better among women (winning the women’s vote in 12 states) than she has among men.
And the role of the gender gap will likely increase, not decrease, in the general election. In a March Pew poll, 26% of general-election voters said “men are better leaders than women,” and those voters are 26 percentage points less likely to support Sen. Clinton. In the Democratic primaries, a huge percentage of the electorate has been women. Yet in the 2004 general election, only 54% of the voters were women. To counteract this latent bit of sexism, Sen. Clinton would need to win women handily while increasing their turnout dramatically compared to the last election.