An interesting trend has emerged as Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) has solidified her lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Previous divisions -- by race and by gender -- in Clinton's support seem to be narrowing. Overall, men and women both give Clinton a wide advantage over Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), and she holds a narrow edge among black voters overall. But not all of the race and gender gaps have closed.
Black men and black women head into the Democratic primary and caucus season with somewhat different outlooks on Clinton and Obama. Combining the last two Washington Post-ABC News surveys, African American men are much more likely than African American women to see Obama as the Democratic field's most honest and trustworthy; black women are more likely to see Clinton as the best representative of Democratic "values."
In a head-to-head competition between Clinton and Obama, black men are evenly divided (44 percent for Obama, 44 percent for Clinton), while black women support Clinton (52 percent to 35 percent).
Over the summer, the two candidates ran about even among black people of both sexes; 42 percent of black men supported each candidate, while 46 percent of black women were for Obama and 45 percent for Clinton. But since then, black women have become a part of Clinton's base.
Both black men and black women express high levels of satisfaction with the Democratic field and both are strongly behind their chosen candidate. Looking ahead to November 2008, both groups would support Clinton over her most likely Republican competitors, and more than six in 10 in each group say she is the Democrat with the best chance of getting elected president.
But in considering the primary field, black men and black women diverge on the questions of honesty and Democratic core values. Also, Clinton's opportunity to become the country's first female president is a likely motivator for black women: 35 percent of African American say they are more likely to vote for her to make history.
Q: Regardless of who you may support, who do you think is the most honest and trustworthy?
Clinton Obama Edwards Black men 30 50 8 Black women 43 38 5
Q: Regardless of who you may support, who do you think best reflects the core values of the Democratic Party?
Clinton Obama Edwards Black men 38 39 14 Black women 53 34 6
For more on Washington Post-ABC News polling, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/polls.