Breaking: Clinton Wins Kentucky

CNN just called Kentucky for Clinton, and some of the exit polling data will have the usually talking heads bringing up the same arguments that Obama is in deep trouble with the white working class vote.

Interestingly enough, while the exit polling is showing a massive lead, at thirteen percent it was still a very close race.  Now, at sixteen percent reporting, though, Clinton is starting to break away.

Oregon’s polls won’t close for another four hours, which means that we won’t have results from that contest for quite some time, and many of you will end up waiting until the morning to get theme.

But as for Kentucky, one of the more troubling numbers coming from there is that the number of Clinton supporters that are promising to defect or vote Republican if Obama wins the nomination is climbing.

This will be parroted mostly by Clinton supporters who are striving to build last minute, last ditch arguments to pull a miracle win for their candidate, but the flip side to that argument is that if this number continues to rise, Obama supporters will have a strengthened argument that Clinton’s continued presence in the race is hurting the Democratic nominee.

That, and a strong showing in Oregon will take the wind out of the sails of an “Obama can’t win whites” argument given Oregon’s high white population.

In truth, this puts both candidates in a very difficult position.  Obama must find a way to reach out to Clinton supporters.  He may or may not be able to win without their support, the answer to that is something I’m not sure of; the preliminary models on how Obama will win in the fall are still kind of hazy to me.  But for someone who is peddling unity, and for someone who would obviously have a much easier go of it in the fall with Clinton’s supporters joining his side, it’s most definitely in his best interest to make whatever overtures are necessary.

But Clinton here is not without risk either.  The most ardent Clinton supporters I’m sure believe that their actions have no repurcussions, but there will be an increasing burden on Clinton to get her flock in line.

One thing that is most definitely certain is that with a low level of crossover appeal and support, coupled with high negatives, the “broad coalition” that Clinton has built is not enough alone to secure her political future.  Without the Democratic party, I don’t think Clinton has much of a political future to look forward to.

I mention this because the last thing that Hillary Clinton needs right now, last for her legacy, and last for her political fortunes, is to be seen as the reason why the Democrats have lost the White House.

With such a high number of her supporters promising to defect, that is exactly where this is going.

I continue to maintain that those numbers are inflated, that many of the voters who promise never to vote for Obama eventually will once there is emotional closure to the primaries, and it is made clear that the differences between McCain and the Democratic candidates are far greater than the differences between Obama and Clinton.

But do not think that if I’m wrong, Clinton won’t bear the brunt of the blame for splintering the party.  And if she is seen as the reason for Democrats losing the race for the White House this fall, that is going to severely damage her position within the party and greatly restrict her options in the future.

To her credit, Mrs. Clinton has done great in driving towards a more unified party, and to be perfectly honest, I would kind of like to see Obama do a little more as well.  In truth, as I’ve said multiple times in the past, I’ve made my peace with both the remaining Democratic candidates and am happy with both.

Now the truly damaging parts of the party are the supporters.  Obama supporters, seriously, need to quit with the condemnations, as hard as that may be.  We’re not helping our candidate by maligning Clinton supporters, insulting them, mocking them, antagonizing them, etc.

By that same token, Clinton supporters need to realize that the tone that they have struck as of recently is not helping their candidate at all.  Given that Clinton has already said that not voting for Obama should he win would be a “grave error” if you are in the defector camp, it is my belief that you are not even supporting Clinton because you aren’t listening to what she has to say.

Simply put, if that defector number doesn’t come down and come down but good, it will be far too easy for Clinton to be made the fall guy in the fall.  But with great risk comes great benefit.  At this point if Clinton manages to rally her supporters around Obama if and when he becomes the nominee, she will have found herself a great amount of leverage within the party, leverage that she has greatly lost throughout the course of this primary.

In other words, there is far more power and benefit to be had by both Clinton and her supporters should her supporters heed their candidate’s words and remain within the party, as opposed to force a fracturous split.


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