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Why Hillary Supporters Might Abandon Obama

Many commentators are buzzing over a Gallup poll (and a similar NBC/Wall Street Journal one) showing that 28% of Hillary Clinton supporters would support John McCain if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee and that 19% of Obama supporters would do the same if she is the nominee. Gallup explains:

It is unknown how many Democrats would actually carry through and vote for a Republican next fall if their preferred candidate does not become the Democratic nominee. The Democratic campaign is in the heat of battle at the moment, but by November, there will have been several months of attempts to build party unity around the eventual nominee — and a focus on reasons why the Republican nominee needs to be defeated. . . Still, when almost 3 out of 10 Clinton supporters say they would vote for McCain over Obama, it suggests that divisions are running deep within the Democratic Party. If the fight for the party’s nomination were to continue until the Denver convention in late August, the Democratic Party could suffer some damage as it tries to regroup for the November general election.

If you consider who a typical Clinton voter is the poll makes quite a bit of sense: older, white, and working-class voters who place a premium on experience and may have bought her “3 a.m.” argument. Sound like potential “gets” for McCain, right? (Then, of course, there are the voters offended and scared off by the Reverend Wright affiliation, but liberal bloggers say that’s all behind us so we won’t worry about them. For now.)

In most elections you see “Republicans for [fill in the name of the Democratic nominee]” groups spring up. They usually are not terribly Republican to begin with and profess that “never before” has the Republican party offered someone so extreme, so conservative, etc. This election there may be groups, real groups, of “Democrats for McCain,” who simply conclude that Obama is too liberal or too inexperienced to be president. Even if the final number isn’t 28%, a fifth or a tenth of that figure may spell trouble for the Democrats, if he’s the eventual nominee.

How long before Clinton’s team starts making this very argument to superdelegates?


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