Like any good political junkies, Mrs. G. and I were glued to New Hampshire election analysis last night. In the empty hours when the talking heads were blithering on, the guys chewed and re-chewed Hillary Clinton's show of emotion the day before. To them, it was a dangerous display of weakness or loss of control. They were dumbfounded, therefore, when at the end of the day (literally) she won, on the strength of independent women voters.
I think Hillary's tears played differently with women than with men. There were only a couple of women among the talking heads, and they said nothing distinctive on this topic. The press interviews with late-deciding Clinton voters this morning, though, told a different story. The women who chose Clinton in the last day before the election said that seeing her womanly side made the difference.
The news story in the Clinton vs. Obama race focused on the gender gap. This is true: among men, the split was Clinton 29%, Obama 40, while among women it was Clinton 46, Obama 34. I know from earlier elections that the gender gap is often really a marriage gap - married people vote one way, and single people another, but since there are more single women, the single vote looks like a women's vote. This is partly true in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. The married women split much more evenly. Married women with children split 42-34 for Clinton, whereas single childless women went 49-31 for Clinton. The gap among married parents exactly matched the final tally (39-36 for Clinton). Still, there is clearly a gender factor favoring Clinton here.
One more notable factor in the New Hampshire primary is that there are many independent voters, and they can vote in either primary. I think that at the last minute, many independent women voted in the Democratic primary to vote for Clinton, and many independent men voted in the Republican primary to vote for McCain.
I am glad that race is not over yet. We will stay tuned.