Al­le­giance runs deep among Democrats in 2008 war of de­mo­graph­ics

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Don­ald Lam­bro

The Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial con­test is turn­ing into a war be­tween die-hards, pit­ting older white women and His­pan­ics for Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton against blacks and young col­lege-ed­u­cated vot­ers for Sen. Barack Obama, in­de­pen­dent poll­sters said April 30.

“This is more than just Hil­lary ver­sus Obama. This is about war­ring de­mo­graph­ics among dif­fer­ent groups. Each has a sense of his­tor­i­cal des­tiny,” said in­de­pen­dent poll­ster John Zogby.

Mr. Zogby said older women see this elec­tion as their last chance to elect a wo­man, and blacks see it as their first chance to elect a black pres­i­dent.

Nei­ther fac­tion is back­ing down, pro­vid­ing fuel for Demo­cratic Party lead­ers’ con­cerns about unit­ing the party for the pres­i­den­tial bat­tle against Repub­li­cans this fall.

A grow­ing num­ber of polls show a large per­cent­age of their sup­port­ers, most be­tween 20 per­cent and 30 per­cent and in some cases higher, say­ing they will never switch. Many are threat­en­ing to vote for Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona, the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, if their Demo­cratic choice loses the nom­i­na­tion.

Frank New­port, the Gallup Poll’s ed­i­tor in chief, said polling showed about 30 per­cent of Clin­ton Democrats say­ing “they would vote for McCain rather than Obama if that was the race in Novem­ber. About 23 per­cent of Obama vot­ers said they would vote for McCain rather than Clin­ton if that was the race this fall.”

“That’s pretty con­sis­tent with what we found last time and what other polls have found. But it does give us an in­di­ca­tion of the an­i­mos­ity go­ing on right now be­tween the sup­port­ers of the two can­di­dates,” Mr. New­port said.

A sharper de­mo­graphic profile emerged last week in an As­so­ci­ated Press-Ya­hoo poll, which has tracked about 2,000 vot­ers since last fall. It showed that the Obama sup­port­ers hold­ing neg­a­tive views of Mrs. Clin­ton has jumped from 35 per­cent in Novem­ber to 44 per­cent. One-quar­ter ex­pressed very un­fa­vor­able feel­ings. The num­ber of Clin­ton vot­ers who do not like Mr. Obama also rose from 26 per­cent to 42 per­cent.

The poll found that about half of the white back­ers of the sen­a­tor from Illi­nois who had col­lege de­grees held an un­fa­vor­able view of Mrs. Clin­ton but that fewer of his black sup­port­ers dis­liked the sen­a­tor from New York. Still, those who had neg­a­tive feel­ings about her grew by 33 per­cent over this pe­riod.

Mr. Obama was sim­i­larly dis­liked by al­most half of Mrs. Clin­ton’s white sup­port­ers who had only a high school ed­u­ca­tion, with four out of 10 white women ex­press­ing a neg­a­tive view of him.

“This is at a point now where th­ese are open sores. Th­ese are high-in­ten­sity groups and higher num­bers than usual for both sides who say they will not switch, and higher num­bers for Hil­lary than for Obama who will not switch,” Mr. Zogby said.

But spokes­men for both can­di­dates said heir party would unite be­hind the even­tual nom­i­nee.

“De­spite the fact that we are in a spir­ited con­test for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, we re­main con­fi­dent that we will be united in the fall,” said Obama cam­paign spokesman Bill Bur­ton.

“We ex­pect Sen­a­tor Clin­ton to be the nom­i­nee, but no mat­ter who the nom­i­nee is, all Democrats will come to­gether in the gen­eral elec­tion,” said Clin­ton spokesman Jay Car­son.

Still, Gallup said in an anal­y­sis it is worth not­ing that in the past four pres­i­den­tial elec­tions “10 per­cent or less of Repub­li­cans and Democrats typ­i­cally vote for the other party’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.”

In a tight gen­eral elec­tion race, “that could make a dif­fer­ence if it’s in the right states,” Mr. New­port said.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Betsy An­ton (left) and Faye Walker wait to shake hands with Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Sen. Barack Obama in In­di­anapo­lis.

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