Democrats Breaking Up over Obama-Clinton Fight?
A new Rasmussen poll shows that 22% of Obama supporters think Clinton should drop out — and vice versa.
Meanwhile, party elders are publicly fretting about the impact all this will have in November. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen tells The Politico, “You’re going to spend this whole summer — and lots of money and time and effort — trying to convince people that whoever isn’t eventually nominated, isn’t electable. That’s a heck of a hole to climb out of come the first of September.”
While this anxiety is understandable — and probably healthier for a political party than overconfidence — it’s misplaced. The polls are just snapshots in time. Of course the supporters of the two candidates think the other one should quit. And, sure, they’re pretty steamed. Then again, supporters of Mitt Romney and Duncan Hunter and other also-rans were vowing that they’d never vote for McCain just a few weeks ago. Most of them have already come around.
Clinton supporters have a much weaker case than Obama supporters for demanding that the other candidate withdraw. After all, Obama’s ahead and at least has a mathematical shot of winning enough delegates going into the convention; Clinton can’t claim either of those things. But she’s got a clear path to victory — albeit a longshot path — under her party’s rules.
The only way it gets truly dicey is if the outcome is thought illegitimate. If Obama wins but the voters of Florida and Michigan feel that they’ve been “disenfranchised” or Clinton wins and is perceived to have “stolen” the nomination, it could be a problem. Those perceptions will likely not form, though, so long as the losing candidate gets behind the eventual nominee at the convention.
I can’t imagine either of Obama or Clinton will choose the sore loser route, even if a handful of their more ardent supporters do. Obama is young and will almost certainly get another shot at the brass ring if he’s denied this time. My sense is that this is Clinton’s last, best hope for the White House. But burning her bridges does no good and there are still plenty of other prizes, including Senate Majority Leader, that she could win if she plays her cards right. That won’t happen if she is thought to have handed the presidency to McCain in a year when it was the Democrats’ to lose.