Henneberger, Melinda

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Henneberger, Melinda

PERSONAL:

Children: twin daughters.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist and writer. Former New York Times reporter.

WRITINGS:

If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of a blog on the Huffington Post Web site. Contributor to Slate, Commonweal, and Newsweek.

SIDELIGHTS:

Melinda Henneberger is a journalist who has contributed to several magazines, including Slate, Commonweal, and Newsweek. She also authors a blog on the Huffington Post Web site. Her debut book, If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear, was published in 2007. Henneberger's motivation behind this book was to uncover why women who traditionally voted Democrat switched parties and voted for George Bush (who received more blue-collar and college-educated women's votes in the 2004 election than he did in 2000) in the 2004 election. To this end, she traveled the country over a period of eighteen months and spoke with more than two hundred women from different backgrounds and twenty different states, both blue and red; in the book she reports on fifteen of the interview sessions that she conducted during her travels. On her journey, Henneberger found that "women's opinions did not match the neatly labeled conventional wisdoms of the gender gap or soccer moms," noted Booklist critic Vanessa Bush. A Publishers Weekly critic felt that the result of all of the author's hard work is a book that gives "a compelling and surprising look at what most sways women's votes." In the book, readers learn that issues surrounding the Iraq war, abortion, social programs, immigration, and employment opportunities dominated many of the group interview sessions; they also discover that numerous women voted Republican during the 2004 presidential election because of just one single issue, even when they agreed with Democrats on everything else. "The book offers many worthwhile insights. One of the best chapters describes an emotionally charged meeting in Denver between then gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter, a prolife Democrat, and some prochoice women with money and clout. Despite the heat in the room, Ritter won the election, the prochoice women apparently deciding a prolife governor with whom they mostly agreed was better than a prolife governor with whom they mostly disagreed…. In other words, the prochoice women settled for something less than ‘everything,’ as so many prolife women had done until they despaired of the Democrats and started voting Republican," observed Jean Hughes Raber in a review of the book for Commonweal. Based on all her field research, Henneberger concludes that Democrats can win the White House in 2008 by regaining the votes of "disaffected women—if they nominate a candidate who respects middleclass values, listens well, and is comfortable talking about faith," as Jill Ortner put it in her review of If They Only Listened to Us for Library Journal.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear, p. 9.

Commonweal, August 17, 2007, Jean Hughes Raber, "Attention, Democrats," p. 26.

Library Journal, May 15, 2007, Jill Ortner, review of If They Only Listened to Us, p. 102.

Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2007, review of If They Only Listened to Us, p. 54.

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