Kathryn Lopez

Hillary Clinton has a man problem. And this time its bigger than just Bill.

Take a look at the exit polls coming out of the primaries thus far. Men are going for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. In California, men went for Obama, 51 percent to Clinton's 39 percent, according to the San Jose Mercury News. In South Carolina, 55 percent of men voted for Obama, with only 23 going for Clinton. (Edwards took the bulk of the rest.)

This is not about sexism. But try telling that to feminists Gloria Steinem and Erica Jong, who both recently wrote whiny op-eds about the urgency of voting for girl power now. I suspect the folks going for Obama are casting their votes for the undefined, middle-of-the-spectrum candidate. Although, according to National Journal, he is the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate, he doesn't come off that way on the campaign trail: Obama sounds and looks conservative enough that even conservative pundits have had good things to say about him -- a fact that promises to be a detriment to those conservatives if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

Actually, Hillary's man problem is not all Hillary's. It is a Democratic problem, one that has been previously obscured or ignored. Political observers have long been more interested in a supposed Republican gender gap with women. The reality of a woman running for president, though, has put a spotlight on the real gender divide. The Democrats have slowly and consistently been losing men.

In a Democratic Leadership Council study called "The White Male Problem," former deputy assistant for domestic policy under Bill Clinton, William A. Galston, identified the problem in 2000. Beginning with Great Society programs, he highlighted a series of factors that turned white males off the Democratic Party.

He writes, "By the 2000 presidential election, the majority of upscale white men came to believe that they needed nothing from government except to be left alone, while many downscale white men concluded that government either did not understand how to help them or did not care enough to do so. Because differing attitudes toward the role of government continue to define the left-right continuum in American politics, the rise of antigovernment sentiment among white men produced a shift toward ideological conservatism.

"And because the major political parties have become more ideologically polarized, this shift in white male sentiment led inexorably to a move away from the Democrats."

The problem is much older than Obama's political career. No Democratic candidate for president has won more than 43 percent of the white male vote since 1976.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.