Nation & World

Obama owns young female voters, according to poll

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama has a 30-point lead over John McCain among registered female voters aged 18 through 27, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Sixty-two percent of Gen Y women surveyed said they supported or leaned toward Obama, while 32 percent backed McCain, according to EMILY's List, a Democratic political action committee that supports female candidates who back legal abortion. Garin-Hart-Yang Research, a Democratic polling company, conducted the research.

Ellen Malcolm, the president of EMILY's List, predicted at a news briefing that these young female supporters will vote in November.

"Women really came out (during the primaries); they voted in numbers we haven't seen in decades," she said. "They wanted to change the direction of the country."

Overall, Obama beats McCain by a 12-point margin among registered female voters, according to the poll. It gives Obama an 8-point margin among women aged 28 through 43 (Gen X) and a 6-point lead among those aged 44 through 62 (baby boomers). Among women 63 and older, his edge is 11 points.

Garin-Hart-Yang surveyed 1,406 registered female voters Aug. 1-7. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

EMILY's List overwhelmingly supports Democratic candidates, and that slant is going to figure into its numbers, said Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women For America, a political action group based in Washington that opposes legal abortion.

"EMILY's List of course is going to present information or data that is favorable to the candidate that they are backing," she said in an interview.

Wright said that the new conflict between Russia and Georgia might pull younger male and female voters toward McCain, because they were more likely to see themselves or their peers as candidates for the military.

A recent Pew survey gave Obama a 13-point lead among all women. According to Carroll Doherty, the associate director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Obama's edge among young female voters was well more than 30 percentage points.

"Look, this didn't just happen by accident. I think the Obama campaign deserves a lot of credit for identifying the way Gen Y voters relate to this election," said Geoff Garin, the director of Garin-Hart-Yang Research.

Garin added that mobilizing young voters over social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace had been a particularly successful strategy for Obama.

"He is closer to their generation," Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., said in an interview. "When you look at someone his age versus McCain's age, there's going to be a resonance there, even just talking about technology and (his) understanding of technology. He speaks their language, and he understands their world."

The poll numbers suggest that Obama has room to improve among senior women, a demographic that he's said he's struggled to reach.

While Obama has an 11-point lead with seniors, Garin noted, a generic Democratic congressional candidate would have a 27-point lead over a generic Republic congressional candidate among senior women.

New polling by a group that focuses on unmarried women, the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund, found Obama especially weak with white female seniors and white women without college educations.

On the Web:

The "18 to 80" study

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