Why Hillary Clinton May Not Have The Female Vote Locked Up : It's All Politics "I think [Bernie Sanders] has a lot of good ideas," said one New Hampshire college student. "But at the same time I feel kind of guilty for not supporting Hillary because she is a woman."
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Why Hillary Clinton May Not Have The Female Vote Locked Up

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Why Hillary Clinton May Not Have The Female Vote Locked Up

Why Hillary Clinton May Not Have The Female Vote Locked Up

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton brought their presidential campaigns to New Hampshire over the weekend. And here's a fun fact about that state. In the 2008 presidential election, 56 percent of those who voted in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire were women. If you were to make a broad generalization about the state, you might assume Clinton has the women's vote locked up - not so, reports NPR's Tamara Keith.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: At her big campaign kickoff rally back in June, Hillary Clinton delivered a line about the glass ceiling she hopes to break.

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HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States.

KEITH: And for the Reverend Jeanne Fournier, that's a message she can get behind. Fournier says she's convinced now is Clinton's time.

JEANNE FOURNIER: I have a sign at my house that I've had for probably 20 years, and the sign says, a woman's place in the House, the Senate and the Oval Office.

KEITH: She gets excited thinking about the message a female president would send to young women and girls.

FOURNIER: You're not just a pretty face. You could lead our country.

KEITH: But many of the women I've interviewed, even at Clinton's own events, don't seem quite so animated by the idea of making history. Identity politics, in this case, may not matter that much.

ELIZABETH FISKE: Right now I am torn between Bernie and Hillary.

KEITH: Elizabeth Fiske is a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire who came out to see Clinton talk about college affordability. Fiske is a women's studies major and says her friends keep talking about Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent. And she likes what she hears, which is causing some angst.

FISKE: I think he has a lot of good ideas, but at the same time I feel kind of guilty for not supporting Hillary because she is a woman because it feels like I should be - oh, we could have a woman in a position of power. That's really good. I feel like I should support her, but at the same time I feel like it shouldn't matter and I should support the politics of it and not the gender or the identity.

KEITH: There's a sense, especially among younger women, that it doesn't have to be Clinton. If it doesn't happen now, they're sure it will happen in their lifetime. But it's not just the college set. Marjorie Smith serves in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

MARJORIE SMITH: I would like to see a woman president, but that doesn't mean I would like to see any woman as president.

KEITH: Smith was sitting near the back at the Clinton event at the University of New Hampshire campus, still shopping around for a candidate to support in 2016.

SMITH: Would I decide to support a presidential candidate because she's a woman? No. Would I support a candidate who is a woman? Absolutely if, in fact, in the end I think she's the best candidate. And I'm just not there yet.

KEITH: When Clinton ran in 2008, she downplayed the potential historical significance of her candidacy. She aimed to exude strength to prove her commander-in-chief credentials. But this time around, her stump speech includes frequent references to being a grandmother, and she's made so-called women's issues centerpieces of her campaign.

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CLINTON: Republicans often say I'm playing the gender card. Well, if supporting women's health and women's rights is playing the gender card, deal me in because that is exactly where I want to be.

KEITH: Most of the women I interviewed at campaign events said they were judging Clinton on her merits, her ideas and, in some cases, her baggage. Cassidy Davis is a high school senior who drove an hour to see Bernie Sanders speak in Virginia.

CASSIDY DAVIS: I don't know. Something just - I don't appreciate the dishonesty as far as the emails go. Like, I understand she had the right to delete them. But it's like, I don't - I'm not going for Hillary. I'm not feeling it.

KEITH: For mother of three Elizabeth Webber, the woman thing has very little to do with her feelings about Clinton.

ELIZABETH WEBBER: I think she honestly has the experience and the tenacity to get the job done. I love what she did when she was Secretary of State, and we need that.

KEITH: And Webber's three adult daughters - they tell the story of this campaign right now. One supports Clinton, one supports Sanders, and one is still trying to decide. Tamara Keith, NPR News.

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