Will Women Vote for Palin?

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Kichiro Sato / AP

There is little doubt that John McCain's unexpected choice of 44-year old Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee is aimed squarely at female voters.

As Alaska governor, Palin said Friday, "I stood up to the lobbyists, the big oil companies and the good old boy network." And she tossed an unmistakeable garland to Democrat Hillary Clinton "for showing such grace and determination in her campaign ... The women of America aren't finished yet."

But if female voters are the targets of the Palin pick, the question is: which kind of female voter?

Not Clinton voters, said a senior adviser to the Clinton campaign Friday morning. Palin may get women to the polls, the adviser said, but it will not be Democratic women.

The only women the choice might move, she contends, is unexcited Republican women who have been leery of McCain thus far.

"Hillary had a lot of support from three groups," the adviser said. "The first — middle aged, non-college woman — should be Democrats, but they stayed home instead of turning out for Al Gore and John Kerry. They are all about the economy. Those women are not social conservatives, nor are they pro-gun. They are definitely security conscious, and so they may have an issue with someone who has two years experience being a heartbeat away from a 72 year old man. That's asking a lot. That's a big ask."

The next group, according to the Clinton adviser, is older female voters who, she said, backed Clinton in large numbers because they believed "experience should trump change. They really wanted a more experienced person as President. It was a bonus for these voters was that Hillary was a woman, because it made them proud of her and themselves. But those women are social progressives. I don't see them turning to McCain because of Sarah Palin."

The third group — and some of the most diehard Hillary voters, the adviser admitted — were affluent women who had risen in their professions at the same time that Clinton did. Those voters too, she noted, tend to be quite liberal and unlikely to move to McCain-Palin.

So who are the women who might give McCain another look now that Palin will be at his side?

"It's the independent woman who has seen McCain as too old or too stodgy, but who isn't ready to vote for Obama. Some of these are the soft or skeptical Republican voters who might sit it out. Some of these may be evangelical women who may see in Palin something of themselves, but who aren't energized enough to vote.'"

The Clinton adviser's final verdict on McCain's pick of Palin? "The whole thing strikes me as utterly ludicrous," she said.

(See photos of Sarah Palin here.)