A new national poll sees Bernie Sanders pulling within two points of Hillary Clinton, with women voters playing a big role in the Vermont senator’s steep rise.
According to a new national poll conducted by Fox News, Sanders has closed the gap from 13 points last month to only two points, now trailing Clinton by 48-46 percent. The remarkable boost comes in major part from the changing attitudes of women voters to Sanders, who are increasingly beginning to identify with his campaign.
Clinton’s support among women, a stronghold of her campaign since the beginning of the race, has dropped by 11 points in the new poll, while Bernie Sanders’ support among women has risen by 9 points during the same period.
Although Sanders still faces an uphill task in upturning his delegate count, Clinton’s fast waning appeal among women voters could boost his chances in the Democratic race for nomination.
Rolling poll data from Reuters shows that the Vermont senator does especially well with white young women, with 61 percent young female voters supporting him, a sharp contrast to Clinton’s 28 percent support within the same demographic.
Bernie Sanders’ growing support among women could be a result of a number of factors. As early as February, when asked why young women were choosing to side with Sanders more than Clinton, feminist luminary Gloria Steinem had said that young women are just going where “the boys” are. In another article by noted New York feminist Jill Filipovic, published in Cosmopolitan, she argued that women were identifying with Sanders because they often feel pressured to make a show of liking cool guy stuff instead of lame girl stuff, the hidden subtext here being that supporting Hillary Clinton was considered “lame girl stuff” in young women’s circles.
And while those reasons might be plausible to a certain degree, the remarkable growth in support that Bernie Sanders now sees among women is not merely down to such factors. As it turns out, there are more practical reasons why women are flocking to Sanders now more than ever.
One of the reasons that women seem to have turned towards Sanders is his promise of a single-payer, universal, “Medicare for all” system, according to the New Republic. Although the Affordable Care Act made great strides for women’s health care, they are still much likelier to be uninsured than their male counterparts. Women, then, undoubtedly see Sanders’ advocacy of a universal health care system as being a step in the right direction, and that could be a major reason that women are beginning to gravitate towards Bernie Sanders from Hillary Clinton.
Moreover, another issue that Sanders has highlighted in his presidential campaign — that of college debt — is of grave importance to women. According to a report from The American Association of University Women, 53 percent of women college students still owed debt one year after finishing college, compared with just 39 percent of men. In this context, there is little doubt that women — and young ones especially — find Sanders’ free public tuition plan as being imperative to their future needs.
Not only that, memory seems to play a great role in Hillary Clinton’s waning appeal among women. Clinton has been associated with the Iraq War, while she has also never been very critical of the role played by the big Wall Street banks in the Great Recession of 2008, something women voters take issue with. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is run on the premise of breaking up the big banks, and women who find themselves marginalized in many aspects of daily life see it as a fight against hegemony.
Then, of course, there is the obvious issue of equal pay that Bernie Sanders has spiritedly advocated during his campaign. Sanders’ advocacy against unequal pay and sexism in workplaces has not gone unnoticed by women, and while Hillary Clinton appears to fight for the some of the same causes, too, her pro-establishment persona and previous mistakes have meant that young women are not very trusting in her promises.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 12, 2016
The most troubling aspect for Hillary Clinton is that Democratic women voters, who were earlier drawn to her due to the simple fact that she is a woman who has doggedly persisted in a man’s world her entire life, are now beginning to switch sides, as is evident in the results of the new national poll.
Will the ever-increasing female support help Bernie Sanders in overturning the deficit? We don’t have to wait much longer to find out.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]