Sen. Hillary Clinton may have come out full bore for the Barack Obama campaign on Saturday, but many of her supporters are having none of it.
Check out this CNN video on YouTube, which sums up the palpable anger many of her supporters feel. Another must-see Web stop is Ed Hale's site, hcsfjm.com. That is shorthand for Hillary Clinton Supporters for John McCain. Hale claims to have garnered 35,000 supporters within a week of launching the site.
The Democratic National Committee either doesn't get it or refuses to admit it. Nothing short of a lengthy, detailed mea culpa by the DNC and by Obama himself, directed to Clinton supporters for the sexist name-calling and personal, nasty characterizations Clinton was alone forced to endure, will do. Even that may not persuade these voters to consider supporting the party this fall. The DNC, Democratic Party leaders in Congress, and Obama should have been at her side, calling her treatment by the media (and even by some Obama supporters) unacceptable.
According to most polls, something in the range of 20 to 25 percent of her 18 million supporters say they'll vote for Senator McCain in November. That's 4.5 million votes--too many to take for granted. Yet taking them for granted is just what the party and Obama are doing. When CNN's Candy Crowley asked Obama how he would appeal to disaffected Clinton voters, he missed the mark entirely, giving a standard set of policy proposals.
I appeared on one of the cable news networks over the weekend, paired with a political reporter from a major newspaper. We were asked whether her supporters would kiss and make up with the Obama camp and end up throwing their support to the Illinois senator in the general election. He said, dismissively, "yes." I responded that with all due respect I thought he was quite wrong. But his laissez-faire attitude typifies that of the bulk of the MSM, the Democratic Party, and the Obama campaign.
We won't know how her supporters will vote until after the general election and its exit polls. Those who sit it out won't even be counted in exit polls. My feeling is just as the MSM underestimated the reaction to anti-Clinton remarks would generate, and the DNC overestimated voters' party loyalty, that no one has a clear read on what comes of all this. The party may have created a miniboom in Republican registration--disaffected Democrats who will never vote for a Democratic candidate again.
There's also the question no one is addressing: With Clinton's absence in the race, middle-of-the-road voters have nowhere to go. McCain isn't conservative enough as far as religious conservatives are concerned. But he's seen as solidly conservative by everyone else and calls himself a conservative. Obama has the albatross of the National Journal's rating as the No. 1 most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. Senator Clinton had come in 14th on that list, which puts her much closer to the middle of the road. Mainstream voters have three choices. They can hold their noses and vote for an extreme liberal or a fairly extreme conservative. They can sit it out, or they can write someone in.
As one voter told me, "This is a 'vote against' election." There's no one for moderates to vote for.
By Bonnie Erbe