Will Democrats Desert The Party In November?
Most Democrats that I’ve spoken to are freaked out with fears that the long Presidential Primary campaign will split the Party and elect John McCain in November.
A report by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press is an example of why Democrats are worried.
Here are some highlights –
The presidential primary season may prove to be a decisive factor in Campaign 2008, not only for who won, but for the way the winners emerged from the process in the eyes of the voters. John McCain was clearly helped, and Barack Obama was just as clearly hurt. McCain has improved his personal image, while making gains among two key groups whose support had eluded him last year, independents and men. In contrast, many people have come to dislike Obama personally, especially former supporters of Hillary Clinton. As a consequence, the Illinois Senator now trails McCain for the first time in a nationwide Pew Research Center survey, by 49%-43%.
…. For the first time since the presidential race began to take shape more than a year ago, McCain has a lead among independents, 47%-39%. This marks a substantial gain for the Senator among these swing voters, who supported Obama by a 56%-36% margin before the primaries began.
Moreover, McCain leads Obama by a 51%-44% margin among voters who say they backed Clinton during the primary process.
Petty scary, don’t you think?
But there’s one thing I didn’t mention. The Pew report is a little over 8 years old. It reported that Al Gore was helped and George W. Bush was hurt by that year’s Primary campaign and that many John McCain supporters and independent voters said that they were so angry at Bush that they were going to vote for Gore over Bush. I simply changed the names in the above - replacing Al Gore with John McCain, George W. Bush with Barack Obama and the 2000 John McCain with Hillary Clinton (and their titles).
Why’d I do this?
It was not to play an April Fools’ joke.
I did it to point out that a situation where the supporters on one Primary candidate get angry enough at the opposing candidate to consider deserting the Party is not something new or unique to this year. It happens quite often.
Sometimes the wounds don’t heal. In 1972, many Democrats told pollsters during the Primary season that they would vote for Richard Nixon over George McGovern and they did.
But in 2000, the anger at Bush by McCain supporters dissipated and most voted Republican. No t enough for Bush to actually win the popular vote but enough so that he could become President (but that’s another story).
What will happen this year? Will it be like 1972 or 2000?
I don’t know the answer but I do know it’s much too early for Democrats to panic and think all is lost because of the Primary campaign. As President Clinton said over the weekend, people should just “chill out.”