The State of the Democratic Party’s Union

It is not strong.

Sully posts, without comment, a letter written to him by one of his readers, that is most definitely worth a look as it touches into some of the bubbling undercurrents of animosity within the party; the backlash that has resulted from a primary process that has gone so terribly wrong.

And I remember how this all began.  Back when the Democratic field was eight instead of two, things were so much different.  It was the Republicans that were tearing each other apart, the whole lot of them (with the exception of Ron Paul) tripping and stumbling over each other in an effort to appear more like Ronald Reagan than the rest of the field.

Meanwhile, the Democratic debates were filled with intellectual debate, and professional courtesy.  With the exception of Mike Gravel who railed at the winds in each debate, and Dennis Kucinich who went back and forth between stunning performances and outright screeds, the field was passionate, but respectful.

Then it all kind of fell apart.

I remember at one point many commentators asking the question, “How do you kill hope?”  The message that Obama offered was so right, so in tune with a change year, so bullet proof, why wouldn’t Democrats jump on it.

These people who wanted to know how to murder hope would have gotten their answer had they only peered into their crystal balls or hopped into their time machine and fast forwarded things a year.

Now, as has been written over and over again, the party grows more divided by the day.

Much has also been made over the fact that most polls show that more Hillary supporters will vote for McCain should Obama win the nomination, than Obama supporters should Clinton win the nomination.  In either case the numbers are depressingly high.

I also happen to think that they are meaningless, and now that Obama’s path to the nomination is in more peril than before his February shutout, I think we might start to see the numbers shift to reflect that.

Why?  Because the sentiments expressed in the letter sent to Sully provide some of the reasons that have led me to believe that the Obama numbers are soft.

For the most part, Obama supporters have had in the past less reason to say they wouldn’t vote for Clinton than Clinton supporters; their guy was winning.  You don’t really dwell on the alternative because realistically it’s not going to happen.  By contrast, I’ve always seen the high Hillary defection potentiality to be more or less a threat.

Pick our candidate or we’re going to make you guys pay.

It is important to understand that this makes much more sense than the alternative; that Clinton supporters truly hate Obama more than Obama supporters hate Clinton.  This is not an idea I make out of hand, or even from a necessarily biased point of view, but by simple observations that should be inherently obvious to most people.

For one, Hillary Clinton has significantly higher negatives, and for the other, her voters tend to be more along the lines of rank and file Democrats; reliable voters, the kind that never get filtered out of the “likely voter” filters in polls.

On the other hand, Obama’s voters are different.  They are younger voters and voters who aren’t necessarily bound by party loyalty.  These are voters that, this election year, had three choices to make; political apathy, a vote for the GOP or a third party, or Obama.  And they have chosen Obama.

This bloc, this coalition that Obama has built and has proven to be incredibly effective at grass roots organization as well as built a fund raising machine far more effective than the old model of high powered, high dollar donors, is a coalition that inevitably will be loyal to Obama, not the Democratic nominee regardless of who that ends up being.

Then there’s the black vote.  Normally I would not deign to “play the race card” so to speak, but I also fear that the Clinton campaign has done more than enough to put its ability to appeal to black voters in peril.  That’s not to say that all African Americans are going to stay home or start voting Republican, but given the events of this primary, I would not be surprised if Clinton would not perform significantly lower amongst African Americans in the General Election than Democrats typically do.

Not that the picture is all that much rosier on Obama’s side.  Much of the past month and a half has been a concerted effort on multiple fronts to detroy Obama’s credibility with the Archie Bunker demographic.  What will be interesting to watch, though, is after he wins the nomination, is how slews of politicos from Hillary Clinton, to her surrogate, attempt to backtrack on all of the attacks and go from Obama being “Out of Touch” to, “Defender of Blue Collar America.”

Because, folks, that’s where this will be going, or, at least, it should be where it’s going, though I can’t really say.

What I can say is what has been said over and over again with a twist.  We’re bitterly divided, and it’s anybody’s guess as to whether or not things will eventually heal.  But where I think a lot of people have it wrong is in the idea that more Clinton supporters will jump ship if Obama’s the nominee; even if that’s what the polls say.

All things considered, I think the polls on this are dead wrong.

2 Responses to “The State of the Democratic Party’s Union”

  1. Pug says:

    Frankly, I’m not sure what to do. One side is calling me an elitist and the other side is calling me an old fart. I’m both.

    Actually, though, Obama has not himself called me an old fart, just his supporters. If they could learn to be a little more respectful, I think they would find that many of us old farts are very glad to see them in the Democratic Party.

    Hillary has herself been railing about elitists, which really is right out of the Republican handbook, so I guess that’s why I’d have to go with Obama. Does Hillary not realize that much of the growing support for Democrats is coming from suburban elitists like me? I’m starting to think she just takes us for granted as she scrambles for blue collar votes at our expense. But we never did anything to these blue collar guys.

    These salt-of-the-earth types she’s so hot on really do tend to vote Republican. I have nothing against these folks. I grew up as one of them. I don’t want to take their guns, I have no problem with their religion, I’d like to see them have decent jobs and I’d really like to see their kids stop dying in Iraq. If taxes are raised I’ll be the one paying more.

    Still, for some reason, they resent me and call me a latte-sipper and an elitist.. I think this is because Republicans have pounded on us elitists for so long and now Hillary is doing it. As far as i’m concerned, it’s their problem if they think I’m the problem. I’m not.

  2. wow…

    nice comment

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