Women Voters Weigh Their '08 Options

"I'm not a follower. I pay attention to detail and make a conscious decision of my own," said Judy DuBose, a friend of Scales'.

Janet Lane, a public relations professional and neighbor of Scales', expressed a similar sentiment: "I don't vote the way my friends vote."

Lane added that she's eager to see which Democratic candidate has a viable chance of beating a Republican nominee. While she leans toward Clinton, Obama or Edwards, Lane worries about a Clinton "dynasty."

"There is some baggage there," Lane said of Clinton's failed attempt to bring about health-care reform in the 1990s.

Even Vershan Scales, who donned a "Hillary 2008" button as he greeted guests at the door, said he was leaning toward Clinton or Obama.

"I like the way he's inspiring young people," Scales said of Obama.

Others worried Obama doesn't have enough experience.

"He's too young, too inexperienced and this country's not ready for a black president," said Michael Frazier, a black voter and professor of public administration at Howard University.

"There's a lot of people who look like him but they can't identify with him," said Frazier, suggesting Obama will have difficulty mobilizing lower-income blacks who do not regularly turn out to vote.

Clinton's Gender Gap Among Leaning Democrats

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday, this month Clinton has improved her standing among men who lean Democratic — with 40 percent of men and 49 percent of women polled supporting her.

The poll found that Obama had the support of 26 percent of men and 33 percent of women who lean Democratic.

Other polling indicates that Clinton faces skepticism among some women, especially those who are married and older.

Clinton's 'Negatives Are Deep'

"[Clinton] comes off as particularly cautious in a way that, while it's understandable, does cost her with women who are looking for realness, spontaneity, sincerity," said Melinda Henneberger, author of "If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear."

Henneberger interviewed 234 women in 20 early primary voting states about their political beliefs for her book.

She said many women, especially those who are white, married and upper-middle class, had deep doubts about Clinton's sincerity.

"Her negatives are deep and pretty diffuse," said Henneberger. "What I heard again and again was, 'She's so calculated.'"

Two Visible Democratic Women Work Against Clinton

Two very visible women on the Democratic campaign circuit were working against Clinton last week: Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama.

And if their husbands weren't her Democratic rivals, Edwards and Obama might have been just the kind of supporters the Clinton camp would look to court.

Their campaign clout gaining by the day, both Edwards and Obama stumped for their spouses, taking thinly veiled shots at Clinton and each proclaiming her own husband as the best candidate for women.

In Boca Raton, Fla., Obama talked about the difficulties facing working women in finding the work-life balance. In the current system, she cited finding affordable child care, quality education and health care in a list of resources that aren't being addressed and changed.

Her message to women voters was one-part stump speech, two-parts Clinton-directed swipe.

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