Hillary Clinton’s balancing act

She's most popular with women -- but many remain wary.

Topics: 2008 Elections, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Broadsheet, White House, Polling, Love and Sex,

Today, the New York Times ran a story headlined “For Clinton, Wooing Women Requires a Careful Balance.” Nothing illustrates that more clearly than the Times/CBS News poll also released today. It reveals that Clinton is most popular with female voters (46 percent view her favorably), but she hardly has all of us lady folk won over (33 percent view her negatively).

As a group, married women are more cleary divided over Clinton: Thirty-nine percent view her favorably and 39 percent view her unfavorably. On the other hand, 53 percent of single women view her positively. Age is also a big factor: “The older the woman, the more negatively she views Mrs. Clinton: 27 percent of those under age 45 view her negatively; 33 percent of those 45 to 64 view her negatively; and 40 percent of those 64 and older view her negatively.”

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Women may be a tough-to-tackle voting group, but as a whole, men view Clinton less favorably. In fact, men’s view of Clinton is nearly the exact opposite of women’s: Thirty-four percent view Clinton positively; 47 percent view her negatively.

If you believe the polls, Clinton isn’t winning over many voters by virtue of being the first serious female candidate; only 5 percent of women and 9 percent of men who view her positively say it’s simply because she’s a woman running for president. As the Times’ Patrick Healy points out, Clinton’s campaign has strategized accordingly: “As Mrs. Clinton highlights her sex … she tries not to lay it on too thick; she rarely brings up, for instance, the possibilities of adding a woman’s touch to national security.”

The Times/CBS poll throws yet more stats on the pile that Clinton’s campaign strategists are already sorting through. But the respondents were utterly clear on one thing: The majority believe Clinton will win the Democratic nomination and will, once again, call 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. home. One question, though: Will Clinton’s newly discovered cleavage hurt or help her campaign? It certainly isn’t hurting her online presence — “hillary clinton cleavage” is (I’m not kidding) currently the third most Googled phrase of the day.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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