It’s the Women, Stupid

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With this election, I’ve morphed into a political news junkie. Instead of “Dancing with the Stars,” I’m all over The NEWSHOUR with Jim Lehrer. I savor John King’s magic maps on CNN with a chaser of Jon Stewart. Goodbye, celebrity gossip and hello, wonkette.com and XM radio’s 24/7 POTUS on the road. And women are a big reason why. 

This presidential campaign seems fixated on how women are divided. Gen Y vs. Boomer feminists. Elitist vs. pink collar. After round one with Hillary, we’re on to the spouse smackdown. Bloggers compare Cindy and Michelle, from weddings to salaries and incite catfights, triggered by wealth or attitude. Yesterday, Michelle Obama appeared on ABC-TV’s “The View” and already the wags argue if she connected with women or acted superior towards them. Here’s my take: This smart, attractive lawyer/mom more than held her own with five fast-talking veteran co-hosts on national TV.  (I’ve been on that View couch and believe me, getting a word in edgewise is a feat.)  

Why this fixation on spousal images? According to today’s AOL poll, a vast majority of voters agree that spouses influence their choice for president. Ready or not, women are defining the candidates’ brands—both as mates and in the voting booth. Whether we’re analyzing the casting in ads or the drama on the campaign trail, women make judgments about other women. It might be uncomfortable or politically incorrect, but it’s true. Do I like her looks or empathize with her as a working mom? Is she like me or someone I might like? Yes, the big issues will drive the vote. But don’t overlook her personal litmus tests. The question isn’t, Whom are women against? It’s, Whom does she trust? Just ask.

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