Monday, August 25, 2008

The Clinton Shadow Over the Convention

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In the last four decades, political conventions have been showy affairs packed with glitz but little substance. The candidate has generally been known for months and it is more a coronation than a nomination. That's about to change dramatically.

When Obama came out ahead of Hillary, the party expected that Hillary supporters would play the good soldier and fall in line. Hillary, for her part, has talked the talk but her supporters have different ideas and it could just be the undoing of the Democrat party:

Sixty-six percent of Clinton supporters, registered Democrats who want Clinton as the nominee, are now backing Obama. That’s down from 75 percent in the end of June. Twenty-seven percent of them now say they’ll support McCain, up from 16 percent in late June.

“The number of Clinton Democrats who say they would vote for McCain has gone up 11 points since June, enough to account for most although not all of the support McCain has gained in that time,” says Holland.

Clinton and Obama battled throughout the primary season, with Clinton winning more than 40 percent of the delegates. She suspended her bid for the White House and backed Obama in early June, after the end of the primary season.

A majority of registered voters, 54 percent, think Obama’s choice of Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate is an excellent or good decision. That number jumps to 73 percent when just asked of registered Democrats. But it drops to 59 percent when narrowed to Clinton supporters.
Significant to be sure and it could spell bad things for Obama. I would imagine an impassioned plea from Hillary to support Obama would tamp this down a bit but these people are not going away. Selecting Biden and not even showing the grace to vet Hillary was the final slap in the face to Hillaryites and one they won't quickly forget:

“He (Obama)has not fully reconciled,” said one political operative close to the Clintons, “and he has not demonstrated that he accepts the Clintons and the Clinton wing of the party.”

While the Clintons have a relatively easy job in Denver — to deliver gracious speeches and accept what are likely to be loud cheers from their supporters — it is “Obama who has the heavy lifting” this week, this aide said.

This is because large numbers of Clinton backers — 30 percent in a recent ABC/Washington Post poll — are still not backing Obama over McCain.

The peevishness on both sides and the volume of behind-the-scenes catcalls are noteworthy because both the Clinton and Obama teams had resolved in pre-convention talks that it was overwhelmingly in the interests of both sides to get along.
Yeah, it'll be a convention for the ages. It all starts tonight.

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