CNN is citing a new poll that shows only 54 percent of Clinton voters plan to vote for Obama, down from 60 percent in a previous poll. They claim this is a sign many intend to stay home. My initial reaction: not a big deal, close proximity to the margin of error, and there’s a lot of time.
I kept reading, “In early June, 22 percent of Clinton supporters polled said they would not vote at all if Obama were the party’s nominee, now close to a third say they will stay home.” This is getting a little more troubling.
Back in March I wrote the following about the ability of both Obama and Clinton to court their opponents backers:
“The core of Hillary Clinton’s base is older women who have voted in every election for twenty years. They will show up to vote. And they will vote Democrat.
Senator Obama locks down voters who are anything but reliable. He pulls in first time voters. It’s easy for them to continue not voting. He inspires Independents and moderate Republicans who would never vote for Hillary. And he’s a walking turnout machine for African Americans.”
Her voters will come around. We have the love fest that will be the Democratic Convention, and then McCain’s profile will be raised enough that Hillary supporters will be inclined to have a preference, and as always, they will make it to the polls.
Perhaps its a Fourth of July idealism, but this election feels different. It’s a bigger change, the first without an incumbent President or VP since 1952. It’ll be the first without a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot in my lifetime. (Hillary being the VP looks increasingly unlikely). With two wars and the economy in shambles, people will want to stand up and be counted.
McCain has transformed himself from being a maverick to a candidate largely striving to be conventional. It feels like he’s running a campaign for 2000 or 2004, not 2008. He hasn’t articulated what he’s for and, whats worse, he seems to be losing sight of who he is. Also, he seems stale. His picking Lieberman would be a powerful statement about his bipartisanship–McCain could have is own “first”. Keep in mind, in 200McCain was interested in running as Kerry’s VP, in large part because he was still pissed at Bush about 2000 (vindictiveness isn’t a good quality in a President). McCain likely thinks Kerry would have won had he picked him, this element plus his self-definition as a maverick, and his friendship with Lieberman might make him defy the odds-makers and name Lieberman as his VP. The John McCain of 2000 might have been this bold, but I don’t see the same courage in the very different animal that is the John McCain of 2008.
Assuming McCain makes a conventional pick, perhaps a Romney a Rudy or a Fred, Hillary’s women will run to Obama. If he picks the right female VP, or Lieberman, perhaps he can pull an appreciable amount of Hillary supporters. Otherwise, they will go to Obama, it’s only a question of when.