How’s that backflip to the center working for Barack Obama? According to CNN polling, he has managed to lose Democrats rather than heal the party after an often-bitter primary. Hillary Clinton has gained eight points in the poll since conceding to Obama, and more of her supporters now say they will stay home rather than cast a vote for the man who bested their favorite:
One week after Sen. Hillary Clinton made a public show of unity with Sen. Barack Obama, a new survey suggests supporters of the New York senator are increasingly less likely to follow her lead.
A growing number of Clinton supporters polled say they may stay home in November instead of casting their ballot for Obama, an indication the party has yet to coalesce around the Illinois senator four weeks after the most prolonged and at times divisive primary race in modern American history came to a close.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Friday, the number of Clinton supporters who plan to defect to Republican Sen. John McCain’s camp is down from one month ago, but — in what could be an ominous sign for Obama as he seeks to unify the party — the number of them who say they plan to vote for Obama is also down, and a growing number say they may not vote at all.
In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey completed in early June before the New York senator ended her White House bid, 60 percent of Clinton backers polled said they planned on voting for Obama. In the latest poll, that number has dropped to 54 percent.
Support for Hillary’s nomination rose from 35% to 43% since her withdrawal. The percentage of refuseniks among them has also risen from 22% to nearly a third. This comes just a week after Hillary Clinton appeared with Obama at a rally in Unity, New Hampshire, to re-endorse Obama and emphasize her support. What has happened?
CNN gets part of the answer in its analysis. Four weeks is not enough time for polarized Democrats to get over the bitterness of the campaign, they say, and it will probably take much longer given the length of the primaries in this cycle. It took Christian conservatives over three months to come to terms with John McCain’s nomination, and the Republican contests didn’t have anywhere near the level of bitterness that existed between Hillary and Obama camps.
That doesn’t explain why the situation has gotten worse, though. Obama’s long string of policy reversals over the last few weeks have made the Clintons look like the Rock of Gibraltar on the issues. Flip-flops on NAFTA, FISA reform, and public financing not only make Obama look dishonest, but a political disaster waiting to happen on the scale of a Walter Mondale or a George McGovern. It’s increasingly clear that the only principle to which Obama will cling is his own benefit, and everyone and everything else can easily go under the bus as long as it benefits Obama.
Don’t expect the Clintons to amp up their support to help Obama. Hillary and Bill see Obama as a disaster as well, and they’re looking at 2012 as well as getting their debt retired from this cycle. Right now, they don’t see Hillary having to run against an incumbent Democrat in the next cycle.