Hillary Clinton shattered a political glass ceiling
Despite some sexism on the campaign trail and in the media, her gender won many votes, too.
Many of the factors that led Hillary Rodham Clinton's historic presidential campaign to fall short are by now well-cataloged.Skip to next paragraph
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The New York senator based her initial message on inevitability, toughness, and experience when the public was clamoring for change. She underestimated the importance of small caucus states, barely competing in some, and allowed Barack Obama to rack up a lead in pledged delegates that proved impossible to overcome.She assumed she would have the nomination wrapped up on Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, and when she didn't, had to scramble to organize and raise more money. She got beaten by Senator Obama in Internet fundraising and organizing. And her husband, the former president, proved at crucial times to be a liability.
But with Senator Clinton prepared to suspend her campaign Saturday, gender does not belong on that list, analysts say. Certainly, she encountered sexism on the trail and in media coverage, and a quick cruise around the Web could have found some of the crudest examples of misogyny imaginable aimed at her. But being female did not cost her the nomination.
"No, it was a good thing," says Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. "I think she got support because she's a woman. I think Barack Obama is getting support because he's African-American. It's because people want something different. Both campaigns are historic, and the [simultaneous] timing is unfortunate."
A new CBS News poll shows most voters think that by making a serious run for the Democratic nomination, Clinton made it easier for other women to run for president. Sixty percent of men and 76 percent of women agree with that statement. Among Democrats, 75 percent agree; among Republicans, it's 63 percent.
Overall, 88 percent of voters agree with the statement "I am glad to see a woman as a serious contender for president." In 1984, when Geraldine Ferraro made history as the first female vice-presidential nominee for a major party, a CBS poll found only 62 percent of voters were "glad that a woman was nominated."
Earlier this year, Ms. Ferraro made headlines again when she suggested that Obama's race gave him an advantage, and in a column in The Boston Globe, she spoke of Democratic women's anger over how sexism hurt Clinton's candidacy.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, says key gender-related moments on the eve of the New Hampshire primary led women to rush to her side and handed her a narrow victory, saving her campaign.
"I think four moments put together signaled to women something was happening here that was unfair, and they rallied," says Ms. Jamieson.
One was when Clinton was asked about her likability in the ABC-TV debate. She quipped that the question had hurt her feelings, says Jamieson, while Obama "peevishly" called her "likable enough."