Al Gore Goes a-Courting... the Woman Voter

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Why, at almost every campaign opportunity, does Al Gore mention his mother, his wife, his daughters and his granddaughter? Why does he keep making a raft of promises, from gun control to education to child care, that may well constitute the most female-attuned agenda of any presidential candidate ever? The answer: He desperately needs women's votes. "The truth is that Gore is simply not doing well with anybody in the polls," says TIME White House correspondent Karen Tumulty. "But he’s doing better –- that is, less badly –- among women." The latest numbers indicate that Gore stands 21 points behind George W. Bush with men, 30 points behind with the elderly, but "only" 11 points behind with women.

"You name the group and Gore’s got problems with it," says Tumulty. That means that if Gore has any hope of overcoming his slump –- which many analysts attribute to his wooden image and the "Clinton fatigue" factor –- he’s got to do well with women. "The Democratic party’s stands on issues are tailor-made for women," says Tumulty. Gore knows that, and so he has been aggressively trying to consolidate the one large constituency that could yet give him the momentum to turn things around. Gore is also well aware that his boss has always polled well among women. This gives him both an opportunity on which to capitalize and a challenge to match. "But the hard fact remains," says Tumulty, "that while Clinton did well with women, he also did well with everybody else."