Just saw this from the Gallup poll people.

Warning: pollsters are notorious peddlers of drama and have probably done as much to distort the election as the media. I urge you to react with that in mind, and let’s have a calm interpretation of this data.

From Gallup

Clinton supporters appear to be somewhat more reactive than Obama supporters. Twenty-eight percent of the former indicate that if Clinton is not the nominee — and Obama is — they would support McCain. That compares to 19% of Obama supporters who would support McCain if Obama is not the nominee — and Clinton is.

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.

Additionally, some threat of deserting the party always takes place as party nomination battles are waged, and this threat can dissipate. For example, in answer to a recent Gallup question, 11% of Republicans said they would vote for the Democratic candidate or a third-party candidate next fall if McCain does not choose a vice president who is considerably more conservative than he is. (And another 9% said they just wouldn’t vote.) These results suggest that it may be normal for some voters to claim early on in the process — perhaps out of frustration — that they will desert their party if certain things do not happen to their liking. And it may be equally likely that they fall back into line by the time of the general election. It is worth noting that in Gallup’s historical final pre-election polls from 1992 to 2004, 10% or less of Republicans and Democrats typically vote for the other party’s presidential candidate.

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.

I purposefully quoted from the tail end of the Gallup article where they try to reasonably interpret the results. You’re going to see the headlines. I want to dive into the substance.

First, this shocked me. I’ve been overly exposed to black people (and all people of conscience who are disgusted with the campaign tactics of the Clinton campaign). Based on this exposure, I am well aware of folks who won’t support Hillary if she is the nominee. As I mentioned yesterday, that position is understandable and even sound and it’s one I share. The logic:

  • The Clinton campaign has consistently chosen to divide the Democratic coalition (with race-baiting and appeals to women’s fears) in order to get ahead
  • The Clinton campaign has sought to severely undermine Obama’s qualifications to be president by challenging his patriotism and fitness to be commander in chief
  • The Clinton campaign has seriously insulted every Democratic voter in states she hasn’t carried by essentially saying they don’t matter
  • The Clinton campaign has performed the most flagrant about-face on Michigan and Florida in attempting to claim those delegates from illegitimate votes
  • Hillary’s only chance of winning the nomination is to heavily manipulate the process via superdelegates (or even switching pledged delegates) despite Obama’s lead in almost any mathematical arrangement

The vast majority of Obama supporters would support Clinton in the general (6 weeks ago), but are increasingly uncomfortable with what she’s doing to grab the nomination.

I started to get a whiff of Clinton supporters against Obama by reading some comments on Daily Kos and Talk Left (i think). Their case consisted of:

  • Obama is a con artist and cult figure with no experience
  • Obama played the race card
  • Obama hates white people, including his own grandmother and hates America because he wouldn’t leave his church
  • Obama is a foreign Muslim who will give all America’s money to black people and Africa

I’m leaving out the policy differences (some HRC folks are really big on her health care over him, but I’ve seen no evidence that the holdouts on either side are basing that on policies).

I’m definitely biased, and I’m sure this presentation is a bit biased, but I’m trying to explain what I’ve seen. The Obama supporters who refuse to support Clinton have stated so based on principles of Democratic unity and political integrity. The strongest, most impassioned cases have been made by folks like our own rikyrah who point out that supporting Clinton in light of her race-laiden tactics provides an ugly playbook to be used against any other black politician in the future.

Even if you disagree with this, it seems clear to me that there are actual arguments based on fact at play. Clinton will have to essentially steal the nomination from him given the math.

From the Clinton supporters, it’s a lot of conspiracy theory and mythology and refusal to want to understand Obama. Many of their points are easily dismissed with information. The experience argument is bogus and can be countered by educating them on his experience, shedding light on hers (ahem, Bosnia etc) and pointing out that experience as they define it is never all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a red herring.

The stuff about him being a muslim and terrorist and bankrupting America. Well, that’s urban legend stuff. It’s hard to fight that. People cling to their ignorance like a comfortable blanket. I doubt folks actually believe it. If they did, they would be susceptible to contrary evidence. No, they use it as an excuse to explain their foregone conclusions that he would be a bad president. Their real reasoning could be racist or simply dislike for the man or extreme loyalty to Hillary.

They’ve settled in their minds that he’s a bad man. I understand this perspective because I share it about President Bush. He can do no good in my mind. I recognize the folly of oversimplifying even him, whom I so dislike, but I recognized it in myself and am willing to discuss it. I doubt the subset of Clinton supporters who see Obama as a cult figure unworthy to even run for president would ever be so honest with themselves.

The one about Obama playing the race card really gets to me, because I was there from the start, watching and documenting the ugliness emanating from the Clinton campaign along with the rest of the Afrosphere (before South Carolina). There are times when Obama’s campaign has responded to the dirt coming out of the Clinton camp, but by and large, he and his campaign have not responded in kind. You don’t hear him talking about how her New Hampshire victory was understandable because of the female vote. You don’t hear him or his people explaining Ohio and Texas don’t count. There are no references to how she’s like Geraldine Ferraro.

The big point of stubbornness among Clinton people who I’ve heard say they won’t vote for Obama is based on her womanhood. A friend of mine called them “Vagina Voters” and they see nothing else. They don’t even understand what policy differences exist. For them it doesn’t matter that Hillary refused to ban landmines or won’t release her earmarks or has engaged in such divisive politicking. It’s a woman’s turn. Period. And if she can’t have it, no one can.

I just don’t see that on the Obama side, and among the black voters who believe this, well, there’s only so many black people in America, but there are plenty more women.

Finally, to come back to the actual poll, I think a lot of those people are full of bullshit. Remember in 2004, when all those people said, “if Bush wins, I’m moving to Cananda?” And guess how many did it. None.

People like to think they’re tougher than they are, but mostly we suck it up and follow. Of the people on both sides who say they will vote for McCain, a significant number are just sounding tough.

I am certain, however, that the longer this campaign goes, the more real those numbers become. It’s another reason to end this thing and soon.

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