Once the undisputed frontrunner in the Democratic primary race, Hillary Clinton, wobbly from a thorough drubbing by Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, has made her way to South Carolina, the next state to hold a primary. Clinton is expected to win there on February 20, but for her to stave off the surging Sanders she must improve her performance with women voters, or, as the former secretary of state put it, “I have some work to do.” Here’s what that work will look like. A glance at exit poll data lays bare the extent to which women voters in the Granite State embraced Sanders over Clinton. Overall, Sanders sailed to a 22 percent victory. With women voters, Sanders bested Clinton by 11 percent, according to NBC News exit polling. But here’s where he really dominated: women voters under age 30 preferred Sanders over Clinton by an 82 percent margin. In fact, Clinton only managed to win only one demographic group in New Hampshire.
Why did women in New Hampshire — and the electorate at large — abandon Clinton? Pundits have tried to dissect and explain what went wrong. Some obvious explanations for the outcome were the backlash to remarks made by Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem over the weekend before the primary. On primary day, before the results began rolling in, a group of elected officials who’ve endorsed Clinton called for Albright and Steinem to be “kept away” from Clinton’s campaign.
Feminist columnist Camille Paglia, writing in a blistering Op-Ed for Salon, argued that the result in New Hampshire amounted to “a crushing blow” for “the old-guard feminist establishment in the U.S.” Paglia goes on to argue that Clinton’s defeat in the Granite State was a result of her egocentric approach — “over-use of ‘I’ in her current campaign, in contrast to Bernie Sanders’ ego-transcending focus on sparking a populist movement of political reform” — and that sexism had nothing to do with her loss. Paglia also laid a fair amount of blame squarely on Steinem, whom she described as a “mummified fascist.”