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Obama favourite in Wyoming

Experts are predicting the western state of just 59,000 registered Democrats will back Barack Obama in Saturday's presidential nominating caucuses.

world Updated: Mar 08, 2008 23:12 IST
Ellen Wulfhorst

With a long history of firsts in women's rights, Wyoming would seem to be a state primed to put its stamp on the presidential aims of Sen Hillary Clinton, but experts say that doesn't seem likely.

They are predicting the western state of just 59,000 registered Democrats will back Clinton's rival Sen Barack Obama in Saturday's presidential nominating caucuses. It has backed Republicans in the last 10 presidential elections.

"While Wyoming has had some remarkable 'firsts' including the right to vote for women and some of the first elected female officials in the nation, our status these days isn't so great," said Catherine Connolly, professor of sociology and women's studies at the University of Wyoming.

The state holds bragging rights for granting women the vote earlier than anywhere else in the United States — in 1869 when it was a territory. In 1925, it became the first state to elect a female governor.

But it doesn't look like Wyoming will be at the forefront in backing Clinton, who would be the first female US president.

"It really isn't playing out as a feminist issue," said Susan Cannon, 55, of Big Horn, who supports Obama. "I think how much I would love to see a female president in my lifetime, but I can't let that ... trump the other concerns that I have."

Analysts said Obama has advantages because the meeting-like caucus format so far has favored him and is likely dominated by liberal Democrats who lean toward the Illinois senator.

Just 12 delegates are up for grabs in sparsely populated Wyoming, which holds the first nominating contest since Clinton won three state primaries on Tuesday.

She trails Obama in collecting delegates to become the Democratic nominee in the November US presidential election.

No statewide independent polling is available, but one local newspaper survey showed voters neutral toward Obama and highly negative on Clinton, said Jim King, professor of political science at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Both headed to the state to campaign on Friday.

"Wyomingites are more open generally to women participation in the political arena, but I don't know that that gives her an advantage," King said.

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