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1 Nov, 2008 02:26

Is Palin’s gender hurting McCain?

With just days to go before the election, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is well ahead of his Republican rival in the race for the White House, according to the latest poll by CBS and the New York Times. The poll also says that a growing num

Although popular among hardcore Republicans, Palin is failing to convince many Americans that she’s the right person to be vice president. So, what's turning people off? Is it her modest political experience, or is her gender a factor?

Gender has been an issue in this campaign since the Democratic primaries, when all eyes were on Hillary Clinton. The question then was could a woman clinch the Democratic nomination and go all the way. She failed at the first hurdle so never got a shot at the White House.

By choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain played the gender card, hoping to win backing from at least a portion of Hillary’s disgruntled supporters. Many Clinton fans insisted they wouldn't vote for Obama on November 4.

Many wondered whether John McCain would have picked Palin had Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination. In her first speech as vice-presidential candidate, Palin lashed out at Hillary Clinton. She described her as inefficient, but insisted that “women of America are not finished yet”.

Palin appeared confident and ready to prove the statement by example.  But the critics remained skeptical, saying she lacked competence in both domestic and foreign policy.

With 72-year-old McCain (who insists he’s in perfect health) running for the top job, Palin is being viewed not only as a possible vice-president, but as someone who could become leader of the world’s most powerful country. And for many Americans, that is a frightening prospect.

“I don’t agree with her position and I don’t think she has what it takes to be a president. With a 72-year-old man as nominee I think there’s an excellent – or at least theoretical – chance she’d become president. I feel very uncomfortable about that, she does not share my values,” one woman said.

On the other hand, there are women who support Palin simply because she is a woman without paying too much attention to her political skill. They say they want “to give her a chance”.

So McCain’s decision to choose Palin as his running mate can be justified. Still, the main competition is between him and Obama. And if the polls turn out to be correct, Palin and the gender issue is likely to become irrelevant