Another interesting nugget that defies the conventional wisdom comes from the latest Pew poll. The poll finds that more Democrats support McCain than Republicans support Obama, a finding that doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is this:
A quarter of Democrats (25%) who back Clinton for the nomination say they would favor McCain in a general election test against Obama. The “defection” rate among Obama’s supporters if Clinton wins the nomination is far lower; just 10% say they would vote for McCain in November, while 86% say they would back Clinton.
That shocks me. From what I’ve seen and heard, the Obama people hate Hillary Clinton. I would have expected a more lop-sided result going the other way. I’ve heard some Hillary supporters dislike Obama, but I’m surprised that a full quarter of them would support McCain over Obama. Now, this could well be another statistical outlier, but it does show just how wide the gap is becoming between Clinton and Obama. The Democratic Party is being held together by dislike of Bush, and now that Bush is fading away, it’s going to be much harder for the Democrats to stay coherent. This kind of intraparty political fighting is a natural consequence of embracing the politics of personal destruction. The longer the contest drags on, the larger the divide, and the harder it is for the Democratic nominee to start appealing to the center.