September 10th, 2008
06:19 AM ET
4 years ago

Is Palin influencing white women?

More white women support McCain-Palin than Obama-Biden.
More white women support McCain-Palin than Obama-Biden.

(CNN) – Did John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate cause a major shift of white women toward the Republican presidential ticket?

Not according to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls.

The pick of Palin, the first female Republican VP candidate, was designed in part to lure women voters to the GOP ticket, with McCain aides hoping a significant proportion of that voting bloc would identify with Palin's working-mom credentials.

But in a CNN/ORC survey released Monday, McCain drew 56 percent of support from registered white women - a statistically insignificant 3 points more than his support among that demographic in the week before he picked Palin as his VP.

Read full poll results [PDF]

"In CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls, Barack Obama was losing white women before the conventions, and he's losing them now," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "His problems with this important voting bloc didn't start when Sarah Palin joined the GOP ticket."

These numbers appear to contradict findings from a recently released Washington Post/ABC News poll that suggested the Arizona senator gained 20 points among white women after Palin joined the ticket and prompted several stories of the Illinois senator's new problem with this key demographic.

But the CNN/ORC poll indicates McCain is even more popular among white women than Palin is (69 vs. 65 percent approval) - evidence his support among that demographic may be attributed to his own appeal, not Palin's. Obama and Joe Biden are also popular with white women, though not to quite the same degree: 58 percent said they held a favorable view of Obama while 55 percent said the same of Biden in the latest poll.

"White women have a favorable view of Sarah Palin, but they have a favorable view of Barack Obama and Joe Biden as well," Holland said.

White women have been a key voting bloc in several recent elections, though their support has not always proved decisive. Al Gore won the popular vote while losing among white women in 2000, and Bill Clinton captured the White House in 1992 while managing only a tie with former President George H.W. Bush.

But in 2004 President Bush carried 55 percent of the white women vote, and 52 percent of women overall - a key reason he won his bid for a second term.

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