March 15, 2008


Infighting Risks Democrats Key Voting Blocs (David Shribman, 3/15/08, Real Clear Politics)

Here are the five groups at risk as the Democrats hurtle toward their rendezvous with destiny, or with disaster, or at least with decision:

Female voters. They have turned out in droves, with great enthusiasm, mostly for Mrs. Clinton. Many of them have been inspired by the Clinton campaign, seeing it as a vehicle for the realization of a dream they never dared have. If a bunch of men in the cyberspace equivalent of a smoke-filled room figure out a way to deliver the nomination to another man, the wounds will not heal swiftly, if at all.

Black voters. Re-read the last paragraph, substitute the words "Mr. Obama" and "whites," leave the rest alone, and you'll get the idea. Blacks have been the most reliably Democratic voting group in the party coalition for more than a generation. Republicans since 1988 have been talking about a way to lure blacks back into the party of Abraham Lincoln. The Democratic Party without black voters is a party without prospects for victory.

Young voters. By now you know the drill; see the previous two items. Young people have been inspired out of their political torpor. If their candidate (in most cases Mr. Obama, in some cases Mrs. Clinton) is seen as having been robbed of a prize he or she earned, the alienation of this generation could last for a generation. That is bad for the Democrats, and it is worse for the country. This is a serious risk.

Michigan. Once the great auto state, still a great labor state, now a classic rust-belt state, Michigan has voted Democratic in the last four elections. No calculus of Democratic general-election strategies leaves out Michigan and its 17 electoral votes. Somehow the party is going to have to figure out how to seat Michigan's delegates at the Denver convention after a rogue primary in which Mr. Obama's name did not even appear on the ballot.

Florida. This state settled the 2000 election, although everything about the episode was unsettling and still is. Now Florida's delegates are in the same position as Michigan's, and the Democrats are struggling over how to proceed. What to do? A do-over primary? A mail ballot? And who will pay for whatever it is? Unresolved questions, all. But both parties covet Florida, and the Democrats can't afford to let the Republicans pluck it as a freebie. There's no easy solution here, though it is easy to say that the status quo cannot continue.

And Latinos, Jews, Northern Catholics, and Asians if they nominate Senator Obama.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2008 7:46 AM
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