If you watch cable news, you'd think that because John McCain put Sarah Palin on the ticket, Hillary Clinton supporters are flocking to the Republican team. While more women are now comfortable with McCain, the majority of Clinton supporters aren't moving to the newest woman in the race. Many are still upset Clinton isn't on the Democratic ticket but are coming around to support Barack Obama. (But there are still enough Clinton die-hards who vow to support McCain that it could make a difference in the race.)
The Lifetime Networks "Every Woman Counts" poll of likely female voters, which was released today, shows a dramatic shift since late July on the question of who best understands women. In July, 52 percent of women chose Obama and 18 percent chose McCain. Now, it is a near tie, with Obama-Biden getting 44 percent to McCain-Palin's 42. Although what exactly "best understands" correlates to in terms of voting is unclear, it is a definite boon for McCain. When McCain put Palin on the ticket, he helped make Republican women more comfortable with his candidacy, but based on this poll and others, I don't think hoards of Democratic women have jumped ship.
Of Clinton supporters, a majority (57 percent) are upset that Obama did not pick Clinton as his vice president but 38 percent say they will still support Obama. But this isn't the whole picture: Thirty-one percent of Clinton supporters said they weren't upset that she wasn't added to the ticket. We can safely assume these are now Obama supporters. That means 69 percent of Clinton backers are now supporting Obama. This number should grow, but it takes time to let wounds heal. Clinton's speech at the Democratic Convention was a start, but seeing her on the trail for Obama this fall will help move those last supporters into his camp.
The poll dispels the rumor that Clinton supporters were flocking in droves to McCain-Palin. Thirty-five percent of Clinton supporters are less likely to vote for McCain now that Palin is on the ticket. Forty-seven percent said her selection made no difference. Only 19 percent said they are more likely to support McCain. The big number for the Obama campaign is that 23 percent of Clinton supporters say they'll vote for McCain, up from 18 percent in July.
I wouldn't bet the farm on McCain-Palin getting all 23 percent of those Clinton's supporters. But in a close election, any defections could swing the election.