Saturday, July 5, 2008

PUMA Power?

Well, I honestly can't say I'm surprised. In a span of only one month, Obama clinched the nomination, Hillary conceded and endorsed him, she rallied her supporters and donors behind him, the appeared together at a unity rally, and then Obama pissed it all away with his great leap to the center.

Not that I ever expected much more than superficial attempts at party unity. Obama's meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus on June 19 betrayed his strategy for party unity--tell them that McCain is pro-choice and they will "get over it:"

According to Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Obama then said, "However, I need to make a decision in the next few months as to how I manage that since I'm running against John McCain, which takes a lot of time. If women take a moment to realize that on every issue important to women, John McCain is not in their corner, that would help them get over it."

According a CNN Poll released on Friday, that strategy has been a miserable failure thus far. While the number of Clinton supporters planning to vote for John McCain has fallen, Obama's support among Clinton voters has fallen from 60% to 54%.

In early June, 22 percent of Clinton supporters polled said they would not vote at all if Obama were the party's nominee, now close to a third say they will stay home.

In another sign the wounds of the heated primary race have yet to heal, 43 percent of registered Democrats polled still say they would prefer Clinton to be the party's presidential nominee.

That number is significantly higher than it was in early June, when 35 percent of Democrats polled said they preferred Clinton to lead the party's presidential ticket.

From the beginning of the campaign, Senator Obama has assumed that Clinton supporters would be a lock for him in November:

"I am confident I will get her votes if I'm the nominee," Obama stressed. "It's not clear she would get the votes I got if she were the nominee."

My repeated statements to the contrary have been dismissed, or met with accusations of bitterness or being a concern troll. This poll clearly shows that work needs to be done, and it's not just Clinton supporters "getting over it." For tips on party unity, perhaps the Obama campaign should take a look at the pledge at I Own My Vote:

I stand together with Hillary Clinton’s 18 million voters to demand that Senator Obama and the Democratic Party:

* Bring us together by seating 100% of the Florida and Michigan delegations in Denver with 100% of their votes, allocated in accordance with the popular vote of each state.
* Bring us together by adopting policies on the Platform Committee that Hillary Clinton has championed.
* Bring us together through reform of the primary and caucus system to reflect the basic principle of one person/one vote.
* Bring us together through outspoken denunciation of all gender bias, racism and other forms of discrimination.
* Bring us together by fairly and respectfully including Hillary and her supporters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver by, among other things, placing her name in nomination for President, conducting a roll call vote, and providing her a prominent speaking role during prime time on August 26th, the 88th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

I own my vote. It does not belong to any party. It does not belong to any candidate. It does not belong to any mob that would impose its will on me. Only I can decide how to use my vote, and I can decide based on any criteria I choose. Therefore I pledge not to give my vote to anyone who does not earn it.

I don't agree with the PUMA movement, but as the Clinton supporters continue to be taken for granted, I've begun to wonder if I would have been better off signing the pledge and sitting on the sidelines for a few months. Perhaps so many of us rushing to support the nominee have made the Obama campaign a little over confident. Hopefully, this poll will make Senator Obama realize that he needs to work on his own party before he starts pandering to the evangelicals.


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