osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

The Democratic Primary: Feel the Energy Drain!

See, this is what happens when you slow down.

There's been a lot of debate about whether the push to PA and beyond would be good for the Dems or bad for the Dems. It is now looking like bad for the Dems overall, although not fatally slow.

The fact is that there just is not that much substantively to talk about anymore between the candidates, apparently. Either the conversation is so detailed you can't get the mainstream media to cover it (e.g., the differences between Clinton and Obama on telecommunications policy, the specific differences in their economic stimulus packages) or they are so broad that both agree (e.g., the economy is in trouble, people are suffering, the War is bad).

Which leaves us with the trivialities of personality and sniping, where each week we hit an exciting new low. Does anyone imagine that Clinton's transparent effort to drag Rev. Wright back into the conversation is going to help African American voters rally 'round the Party if Clinton wins the nomination? Or that pressing Chelsea Clinton about her father's sex scandal is going to score points with voters?

Of course, the very act of pointing this out usually inspires an equally partisan response. It is all the fault of the other side/the other side should stop first. Then there are the "mature" folks who want to blame both sides equally, because we seem to have developed a cherished cultural belief that when two people/groups fight, both sides are wrong. But such an approach fails to acknowledge the reality that candidates that have tried to take the high road and "refuse to play down to this level" end up steamrolled. You can't blame players for reacting rationally, especially when blame is pretty pointless.

Most folks doing the math agree that at this point, it is unlikely that either candidate can win the remaining states by such a huge margin to reach the number of super delegates needed. But the same math also continues to give Obama an edge -- unless something big happens. It nearly did with Wright, but Obama showed he could take the high road and -- at the very least -- keep his supporters sufficiently happy that he won't lose ground. This combination of facts is clearly weighing on the Clinton campaign and its supporters, as they face a constant struggle to overcome the growing perception among Obama supporters and key Democrats that Clinton can only win by "stealing" the nomination.

OTOH, there is no way Clinton will drop out before the PA primary, and no way she will drop out if she wins. So we can look forward to another month of this at a minimum -- leavened only by Stephen Colbert's exciting "Doritos Spicy Sweet Pennsylvania Primary Coverage from Chili-Delphia — The City of Brotherly Crunch." ("Taste the Democracy!")

Which brings us to today's news on the hardening of positions within the Democratic Party. an increasing number of supporters for one candidate say they will vote for McCain rather than their rival. (Survey results here. Intriguingly, 28% of Clinton supporters say they prefer McCain to Obama in the general election (with another 12% saying they will not vote), as compared to 19% of Obama supporters (with 9% refusing to vote). I would be inclined to say this was strategic on the part of Clinton supporters, but it matches anecdotal evidence that Clinton supporters are becoming so frustrated with what they perceive as the unduly rapturous support for Obama by Obama supporters and the press (see, for example, the Daily Kos Strike). While I find it difficult to believe that 28% of current Clinton supporters will vote for a man who believes that we need more Justices like Roberts and Alito so we can repeal Roe v. Wade, there can be no doubt that positions are hardening from a month ago when most registered Democrats claimed to be happy with either candidate and excited by the race generally.

I have no snappy policy answer. Nature must take its course. But my hope that the election of 2008 will echo the election of 1932 rather than the election of 1968 seems increasingly unlikely.

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