Obama's Backers Send Warning to Party

Washington Matters

Obama's Backers Send Warning to Party

At the debate on Wednesday, both candidates insisted Democrats will be united in the fall no matter who the nominee is, but the aftermath of their televised encounter casts doubt on that assumption, especially if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination.


The ABC moderators of the debate have taken a tremendous amount of grief -- including on this blog. Thousands of Barack Obama's supporters have charged that Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos were unfairly harsh on the Illinois senator. Whether you agree or not, that massive reaction and the lighting up of furious blogs and e-mail exchanges makes clear that Obama's supporters are nothing if not extremely loyal and outspoken -- suggesting that if Clinton wins -- no matter how -- Obama's legions will be convinced that their man was unfairly denied a nomination he earned and deserved. His supporters -- especially the younger ones -- aren't likely to easily switch their allegiance to Clinton. The reverse is also true, but to a lesser degree.

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This is not likely to be lost on superdelegates, many of whom are officials seeking reelection or party officials working to get other Democrats elected. They know that if Obama is the nominee, some Clinton supporters will vote for McCain, but still vote for Democrats further down the ticket. But if Clinton wins, Obama supporters are more likely to stay home, costing all Democrats crucial votes. That may help explain at least some of the continuing movement of superdelegates to the Obama camp.