Clinton Stands Firm

Hillary Clinton was in Indiana this weekend, telling cheering audiences there was no way she was about to drop out of the race for her party's presidential nomination:

I didn't think we believed that in America. I thought we of all people knew how important it was to give everyone a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted, and we're going to give Indiana that chance on May 6th...because, you see, I have this old-fashioned idea that the more people who get a chance to vote, the better it is for our democracy.

Clinton has stumbled badly at several key points in this campaign: when she gave more credit to LBJ for civil rights laws than to Martin Luther King Jr. for shepherding the civil rights movement; when she claimed to have dodged sniper fire in Bosnia. But her comeback to party elders' claims that it is time for her to go was one of her finest moments thus far. She made Sen. Patrick Leahy and others who've called for her to step down look Big Brother-evil and condescending.

Meanwhile, new poll numbers confirm Democratic Party leaders' worst fears: a continued nomination battle between Clinton and Barack Obama could well depress Democratic voter turnout in November. A CNN poll released on Friday shows that 16 percent of Clinton supporters questioned said they are not likely to vote in the general election if Obama is the Democratic nominee and an equal number of Obama supporters said they'll sit it out come November if Clinton is their party's nominee.

CNN polling director Keating Holland is quoted as saying that "the real problem [for Democrats in November] may be that those disaffected Clinton or Obama supporters may just stay at home in November, which could cost the party dearly in some key states.... If the Obama stay-at-home vote is largely African-American, that will affect Democrats' chances on the ballot in several southern states and could take states like Virginia off the table completely."

I'm sure there will be some of that. But by the time November rolls around, there will have been such a heated contest between John McCain and the eventual Democratic nominee that most angry or even disaffected Democrats will feel compelled to go to the polls whether their nominee's name is on the ballot or not.

By Bonnie Erbe