Saturday, July 28, 2007

LiveBlogging BlogHer: Earn Our Votes

My mother and my 98-year-old grandmother drove me down to Navy Pier this morning (guess who drove), and I'm jumping in, in medias res, to one of the session I've most been looking forward to: "Earn Our Votes: What Questions Do Women Bloggers Want Candidates to Answer in Election 2008?"

The panel begins with a series of presentations by pollsters. Anita Sharma of Lake Research Partners is talking. So here we go:
In 2006, women decided the country needed a new direction. Women's votes were key in VA, MO, and MT, where the races were close. Unmarried women, the fastest growing demographic in the US, were more likely to vote for the Dems in 2006. They are 47% of American women. Turnout among this group shot up in 2006.

Women's agenda is broader than men's: women are concerned about Iraq, but also child care, early education, equality for women, and the environment.

Independent and Dem women put health care at the top of their concerns, while Rep women put the war on top. Number 2 on Dem women's agenda is Social Security, and number 3 is economy and jobs.

When asked about the importance of having a woman Speaker, over 1/2 of the women surveyed said it was important.

Will 2008 be the year of the woman president? Recent data published in the NY Times/CBS News poll, 70% of Dem women view Hillary favorably, while only 15% of Rep women do.

Hillary is most popular among single women (54% view her favorably. 39% of married women do.)

Totally interesting. But here's where I really wake up: One of the panelists comments that married swing voters have trouble with Hillary because she, as a professionally successful married woman and mother, has been able to have it all. Say WHAT? Way to fuel the overblown mommy wars with false ammo.

But thank goodness. Jenn Pozner of Women in Media and News to the rescue. Jenn notes that media coverage may portray women as making decisions out of emotions like jealousy, but isn't it important to also emphasize how women, more often, actually care about more than that and vote based on policy issues?

Panelist Sarah Simmons counters, "But the reality is that women are challenged by other women's success." Sigh. Meow. (Sarah served in the Office of Strategic Initiatives in the Bush White House, not that that's relevant, just throwing it out there.) Lisa Stone poses the general question to the panel of pollsters, do women vote based on policy, or personality? The panelists answer: both.

Lisa Stone--a fabulous moderator and provocateur--asks if anyone in the audience would vote for a candidate based on her gender. Jenn Pozner notes aloud that NOW President Kim Gandy, who is here in the house, didn't raise her hand. So Lisa invites Kim to speak. Among other smart responses, Kim speaks about the power of the mirror. She also says it's important for our sons to see that women can be leaders. Hells yeah.

Time for breakout group, then off to lunch...I'm afraid this will be my last "live" post for now, as after the business sessions this afternoon, my parents are picking me up for some much-needed family time while I'm here. For old times sake, we're heading to the Lincoln Park Zoo. But watch for more coverage of this and other sessions over at the BlogHer site.

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