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Women helped Hillary beat Obama: Experts

Source: PTI
January 09, 2008 14:33 IST
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Hillary Clinton's surprise victory in New Hampshire has stunned political pundits and pollsters who scrambled on Wednesday to explain why their prediction had gone wrong.

For Hillary, the victory was very important because of the assessment should Barak Obama win the second state too after Iowa, he might be unstoppable even though the major states are yet to hold primaries. But the smaller primaries early generally become the trend-setters.

Her victory was portrayed by her campaign as a stunning turnabout and the New York Times said given how dire her situation had appeared just hours earlier, the spin was not unjustified.

The analysts had projected that her main rival Barak Obama has 10-point lead over her and is poised to win the election. But as the result started coming Tuesday night, analysts started explaining that women were a crucial factor in Hillary rebounding from third position in Iowa to win the Democratic primary.

Though she won only narrowly with 39 per cent votes against Obama's 36 per cent, the victory immediately energized her campaign and she looked much more relaxed than she had during the last few days as she campaigned.

After analysts said that Obama victory in Iowa was strongly backed by young people, the Hillary campaign changed the strategy to rope them in. During her victory speech, she mentioned young people several times and congratulated them for voting with head and heart.

The analysts were also debating the role of former president Bill Clinton who, CNN noted, had spent Tuesday in Hanover home to Dartmouth College where Obama was expected to win by a handsome margin.

"They dispatched him to the area that Obama was surging," said CNN analyst Donna Brazille, who managed former vice-president Al Gore's campaign in 2000.

"I think it had the effect of tamping down Obama support and giving Hillary a real reason to come back in this race."

Though Hillary had established an early lead of around 3000 votes which she maintained throughout as the results came in, television networks did not project her a winner as they waited results from colleges towns which were among the last to come in.

Analysts said that the young people had voted in strength and that could help Obama. But the result did not make much difference as apparently the support for Obama was not as strong as predicted.

Young men and women were in forefront when Hillary gave her victory speech with her daughter by her side and Bill Clinton out of the camera range.

"Last week, I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice," she began her address. "Now let's give America the kind of comeback that New Hampshire has just given me."

CNN reported that 43 per cent of self-styled independents said they voted for Obama, and 31 per cent said they backed Clinton. Independents made up 43 percent of all voters polled.

But Hillary was ahead of Obama 45 percent to 34 percent among those who said they were registered Democrats. Those voters made up a majority -- 54 per cent -- of all those respondents.

College graduates, who made up 29 per cent of the electorate, opted narrowly for Hillary -- 38 per cent to Obama's 37 per cent, according to the polls.

Those who called themselves very liberal, and moderate, went with Hillary over Obama -- although by less than 2 percentage points in each -- and those who said they are somewhat liberal were evenly split.

"Age is also playing a big factor -- older voters are overwhelmingly outnumbering younger voters -- a proportion that is clearly benefiting Hillary," another analyst said.

"Sixty-seven percent of Democratic primary voters are over the age of 40, and they are breaking heavily for Clinton over Obama."

The New York Times said Hillary's performance suggested that Obama is certainly a vulnerable candidate.

But the tough fight she has faced so far has made clear that the obstacles Hillary had anticipated in preparing for her campaign for the White HouseĀ  resistance to electing a woman as president and weariness with idea of another Clinton in the White House have been compounded by the unusual nature of Obama's candidacy.

The paper noted that the next two contestsĀ  the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary are being fought on what is not particularly welcome terrain for her.

In Nevada, the powerful union of culinary workers has said it will put its muscle behind Obama. The South Carolina electorate is expected to be about 50 per cent African-American.

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