Kathleen Parker

In fact, the groups that favored Clinton over Obama included people 45 and over, working-class and union folks, as well as voters in the suburbs, small towns and in rural areas -- those embittered Americans Obama recently described as clinging to their guns and religion out of frustration. Also among those Obama lost to Clinton were weekly churchgoers and, yes, gun owners -- by 63 percent to 37 percent.

So, yes, some percentage of Americans (or Turks or Greeks or Swedes) will always take race and gender into consideration at the polls. But Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama may not provide a clear picture as to how those issues play out in politics. Each brings too many confounding factors that distort the picture.

Clinton isn't just any woman, needless to say. People like and dislike her often for the same reason -- because she's the wife of Bill. In either case, it's not only that she's A Woman, but that she's That Particular Woman.

And Obama isn't just any black man. Those who like or dislike him don't necessarily base those opinions on his skin color or ethnic heritage, except to the extent that they are tied to differences that are also cultural.

Clinton may not be Everywoman, no matter how unflinchingly she downs a tumbler of Crown Royal. But she is a more familiar entity than someone like Obama, who, having grown up in Hawaii and Indonesia, doesn't share the life experiences of the groups that voted against him on Tuesday.

Do they "hate" blacks, as the Ephron School insists? Or do they prefer a familiar individual who sees the world essentially as they do? Are white males misogynistic and racist? Or are they weary of being the only group in America that is fair game for contempt, insult and blame?

Bottom line: It's hard to woo people you don't really love.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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