Though many Hillary Clinton supporters clenched their teeth and supported Barack Obama in 2008, many remain frustrated with the president’s failure to champion women’s issues and believe he should expect a lower turnout among women for his 2012 reelection.
“After 2008 [Clinton voters] were basically told get over it, and they haven’t gotten over it,” Amy Siskind, president of the feminist advocacy group The New Agenda, told The Daily Caller.
Women, however, did vote for Obama in droves with the hope that he would tackle the issues important to them once in office. This has not been the case according to many Hillary Clinton supporters.
“Barack Obama wasn’t the women’s candidate in 2008 and he is not the women’s president midway through 2011,” Diane Mantouvalos, a 2008 Clinton supporter and co-founder of HireHeels.com (“a forum of power chics for Hillary”) noted.
According to Manatouvalos — who pointed to a March 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics report that showed 90 percent of recovery jobs had gone to men in the prior 12 months as proof — Obama has hardly been the women-friendly executive so many thought he could be.
Indeed, while women did vote for Obama by a margin of 13 percentage points over the GOP in 2008, Democrats lost the women’s vote to Republicans by 1 percentage point during the 2010 elections, based on exit polling.
“I’d say few if any Hillary supporters have warmed up to the president…I certainly hope that changes by 2012, but it’s too late for women to feel like they’re doing better than they were 3 or 4 years ago,” Mantouvalos added.
It is not just the job situation either. Feminists have also taken issue with the fact that Obama’s cabinet only has a comparable number of females to the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
“In Obama’s coalition, women do not play as strong a role,” Lara Brown, assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and former President Clinton appointee, said. “From my perspective, even though Obama and his administration have talked about giving women appointments, I think that, in fact, they have been much more interested in reaching out to other constituencies that they feel are more important.”
The perceived neglect of women likely will not escape the administration’s attention as they embark on their 2012 campaign. Obama will need to decidedly win the women’s vote if he hopes to be re-elected.
“I think it’s partly why he installed Debbie Wasserman-Schulz as the head of the Democratic National Committee, to mollify women, to be serious about making women very visible in his administration and in his reelection campaign,” said Kellyanne Conway, CEO of the polling company, inc./WomanTrend, in reference to the relatively few number of women surrounding the president.
However, Sam Bennett, president and CEO of the Women’s Campaign Forum and a former Republican, explained that no matter how frustrated Clinton supporters might be with Obama, Republican policies and attacks on choice will make the 2012 election a no-brainer for most women. They will just vote against the Republicans, not necessarily for Obama, she said.
“This election cycle, more than any other, women have a very clear choice,” she told TheDC. “Even if they do not fully embrace Obama yet, which I completely understand, because Hillary represented so many women — a whole nation of life’s work. But the choice is clear.”