A new Public Policy Institute of California poll released today shows a wide gender gap among California Democrats — a gap on the order of the one that has shown itself in recent general elections.
If you add the votes of Barack Obama, John Edwards and (the recently withdrawn) Dennis Kucinich, the three men are carrying male Democrats 51 percent to 35 percent over Hillary Clinton. But Clinton alone captures 48 percent of the female vote, while the three men combined attract only 38 percent of Democratic women.
Pollster Mark Baldassare told me today that the Democratic gender gap is the most striking finding in the new poll: "It's incredible."
The findings raise an interesting question: If Clinton is the nominee, how much of the Democratic male vote will she be able to capture in November?
The fact is, if only men could vote, California might well be a red state. According to exit polls, for instance, Republican Bill Simon beat Democrat Gray Davis among men in their race for governor in 2002. Davis' entire margin of victory was supplied by women.
Since women are the source of the Democratic advantage in California, it's hard to imagine that having a woman on the ballot would substantially increase that already large edge. The bottom line, in California and elsewhere, is that a close election in the fall could be decided by whether the Democratic candidate's gender has any impact on the votes of independent and Democratic men.