Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Clinton Backers Reject Party Unity

Hillary Clinton made a powerful case for Barack Obama and Democratic Party unity in her address last night to convention delegates at Denver's Pepsi Center.

Yet supporters of Senator Clinton, arguably the most important Democratic constituency in the country right now, remain uncommited to electing Barack Obama to the White House in November.

Here's the Washington Post's report:

Hillary Rodham Clinton's most loyal delegates came to the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night looking for direction. They listened, rapt, to a 20-minute speech that many proclaimed the best she had ever delivered, hoping her words could somehow unwind a year of tension in the Democratic Party. But when Clinton stepped off the stage and the standing ovation faded into silence, many of her supporters were left with a sobering realization: Even a tremendous speech couldn't erase their frustrations.

Despite Clinton's plea for Democrats to unite, her delegates remained divided as to how they should proceed.
The New York Times confirms the disunity, "Some Clinton Fund-Raisers Are Still Simmering":

A significant number of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top fund-raisers remain on the sidelines and unwilling to work for Senator Barack Obama, a nettlesome problem that appears to be contributing to the campaign’s failure to keep pace with ambitious fund-raising goals it set for the general election.

The lingering rancor between the sides appears to have intensified at the Democratic convention, with grousing from some Clinton fund-raisers about the way they are being treated by the Obama campaign in terms of hotel rooms, credentials and the like. Tensions were already high, particularly in the wake of revelations that Mr. Obama did not vet Mrs. Clinton or ask her advice on his vice-presidential pick.

Many major Clinton fund-raisers skipped the convention; others are leaving Wednesday, before Mr. Obama’s speech.

More broadly, a consensus appears to have emerged among many major Clinton donors that the Obama campaign did not do enough to enlist their support, according to interviews with more than a half-dozen Clinton fund-raisers.
Gallup explains Democratic Party elusiveness as resulting from the defections of conservatives Democrats:

Barack Obama has been struggling to maintain his Democratic base thus far in August, and according to weekly averages of Gallup Poll Daily tracking, the problem seems to be with conservative Democrats.

Within the Democratic Party, Obama's losses are primarily evident among the relatively small group that describes its political views as conservative. The 63% of conservative Democrats supporting Obama over McCain in Aug. 18-24 polling is the lowest Obama has earned since he clinched the Democratic nomination in June. At the same time, there have been no similar drops in support for Obama in the preferences of liberal or moderate Democrats.
Here's Gallup on the implications of Obama's conservative defection for the general election:

Obama held the slight upper hand in the race from early June through mid-August. His failure to maintain that last week - averaging a tie with McCain at 45% - can be largely explained by some defection from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party, as well as less crossover support from moderate and liberal Republicans....

It will be important to see whether Obama's erstwhile supporters - particularly conservative Democrats - come back to the fold this week as they watch the Democratic National Convention and take a fresh look at their new nominee for president.
There's some "high anxiety" up in Denver, and if these folks don't come in for a landing, the party's hopes for a historic victory in the fall may dissipate in the clouds.