Lengthy Nomination Campaign Helping Democrats

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 14:54


For all the hand-wringing over an extended primary campaign, including some hand-wringing of my own, all quantitative evidence currently points to the campaign benefiting the party. The extended primary campaign is creating vast numbers of new Democrats, improving our general election standing, creating new swing states, turning existing swing states blue, allowing small donors to take over direct funding the Democratic Party in the Presidential election, and swamping Republicans in fundraising. First, Rasmussen finds a 7% shift to Democrats in partisan self-identificaiton:

In February, the number of Americans who consider themselves to be Democrats jumped to 41.5%, the highest total on record. Just 31.8% consider themselves to be Republicans. The partisan gap-a 9.7 percentage point advantage for the Democrats-is by far the largest it has ever been. The previous high was a 6.9 point edge for the Democrats in December 2006. Rasmussen Reports tracks this information based upon telephone interviews with approximately 15,000 adults per month and has been doing so since November 2002.

The 9.7 percentage point advantage for Democrats is up from a 5.6 point advantage a month ago and a 2.1 point advantage two months ago. The surge for the Democrats is especially notable because it reversed a modest trend in the GOP direction that unfolded over much of calendar year 2007.

AP confirming Rasmussen:

More people say they are Democrats than said so before voting started in this year's presidential contests while the number of Republicans has remained flat, a survey showed Thursday.

The Associated Press-Ipsos poll had additional bad news for the GOP: The number of independents and moderates satisfied with President Bush and the country's direction has dipped to record or near-record lows.

That is a seismic partisan shift of about ten million Americans that would not have happened without the epic nomination campaign. Also, according to Real Clear Politics, both Clinton (+0.5%) and Obama (+5.6%) have now taken the lead against McCain in general election polling, even though in January they both trailed. Further, compared to McCain's $12M February haul, Clinton and Obama combined to raise between $86M-$90M in February, $75M of which came from small, online donors. Yet further, extensive campaigning in states like Texas and making them surprising competitive in the general election, while heavy campaigning in states like Ohio are making them virtually solid blue states for the general election (see here for more).

Overall, the extended nomination campaign has been excellent for the Democratic Party. A big test of just how good things are, and also of Obama's ability to carry his wave downticket, will come on Saturday during the special election in IL-14 for Dennis Hastert's old seat. There are still nightemere scenarios, too. First, Obama could use his large delegate lead to eek out the nomination even if he loses the majority of the remaining primaries, and having a nominee who stumbles to victory will be terrible in terms of general election momentum. Second, Clinton could win the nomination through superdelegates, arm-twisting and the credentials committee despite losing the popular vote, which could cause a huge number of disaffected Democrats in the general election. However, if the nomination is decided pretty much any other way, even if it doesn't end until June the extended nomination campaign will have been a great overall boost to Democrats. Small donors are taking over, massive organizing is taking place in long-ignored states, candidates are forced to continually improve after stumbling, waves of new Democrats are being created, McCain is getting shut of the media and swamped in fundraising.

This could change, but so far the extended nomination campaign has been a huge boost to the Democratic cause, and longstanding worries about the negatives of hotly contested primaries are proving both false and very old-fashioned. When the entire country is transfixed on Democrats, when Democrats are forced to compete everywhere, and when large donors are out of money, amazing things can happen. It appears that creating nationwide excitement is a more effective way of building up the party rather than falling sheepishly in line after New Hampshire.

Update: Brendan Nyhan has specific data that shows divisive primaries do not harm candidates in the general election.  

Chris Bowers :: Lengthy Nomination Campaign Helping Democrats

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Don't disagree but..... (0.00 / 0)
The other shoe hasn't dropped. Someone is going to win the primary and someone is going to lose and the way this has played out there will be hard feelings. Very. Hard. Feelings. So, a lot of the air is going to leave the balloon. The question is will that enthusiasm return by November.

John McCain doesn't care about Vets.



Well, the candidates cna do a lot to defuse this (0.00 / 0)
if the loser plays nice and gets in line and supports the winner, or joins the ticket, then a lot of the bad feelings can be dispelled very very quickly.

[ Parent ]
Hard feelings limitd to a few (0.00 / 0)
The vast majority of Democrats would be happy with either, and would be relieved to have a winner.  I believe the enthusiasm would be quick and overwhelming, particularly in the case of Obama winning.

I wish my border collie could run for President.

[ Parent ]
For example (0.00 / 0)
If the Fla or MI delegates (as they stand now) were seated and that gave the nomination to Hillary, there will be blowback (and there should) and it will last. It may not make Obama supporters into McCain supporters but it will have a serious volunteer, contributor, GOTV effect.

Same thing if the Super Delegates override the primary/caucus delegates.

This will be very, very serious.

John McCain doesn't care about Vets.



[ Parent ]
Most of the primary, though (0.00 / 0)
Has been about policies, vision for America, and beating the GOP and Bush. Now it's turning into a vicious cycle of anger and vitriol, or as Sen. Clinton calls it, "the fun part". I wonder if that'll help come November.

Reforming the Primary System (0.00 / 0)
This campaign has shown Democrats the value of an extended primary season -- more free media exposure, more opportunities to invigorate local Democratic Parties, and real vetting of the candidates on the campaign trail.

I think that the 1-2 positions for Iowa and New Hampshire should be preserved -- both states understand their influence and responsibilities, and handle them very well.

Going forward, an orderly progression of primary and caucus states should be planned, so as to preserve the best of this year while mitigating the worst aspects.

Breathing room between the first events is helpful -- a week to 10 days is about right. Start with Iowa and NH; then a Nevada caucus a week later; then a South Carolina Primary a week after that; then a two primary day (Michigan and Florida?) a week later; then the first Super Tuesday (although smaller than this one); then a series of paired or mini Tuesday primaries and caucuses, all the way through to May or June.

All in all, this season worked out well -- despite the chaos at the beginning.


Or just three primaries a week (0.00 / 0)
starting in, say, Mid-February.  The whole thing is done in sixteen or seventeen weeks, i.e., sometime in the summer, and is nice and orderly, and reasonably spaced out.  We could go from smallest state to largest state, having the CA and TX primaries on the laxt week, so that there'd still be a huge number of delegates out there till the last minute, and every voter in the country would feel like they have some sort of say.

If only the state parties didn't have the power to just hijack the whole system, and therefore, it'd never happen.


[ Parent ]
But if this election has taught me anything (0.00 / 0)
it's that caucuses and district-level delegate apportionment piss me off more than the primary calendar.

[ Parent ]
The problem ain't the length its the tone (0.00 / 0)
If the Clintons weren't worshiping McCain and trying to destroy Obama you may be right but that's not the case.

The Clintons have gone over the edge and are working hard to split the Democratic Party and turn off all Obama voters.  Guess they think we will all come back crawling in the end.  We won't.  

What happens now really doesn't really matter.  The hatred between the Obama and Clinto camps won't be healed - now its a battle for the sole of the Democratic Party and what happens in 2008 is really irrelevant.


Oh yeah (0.00 / 0)
Sad but true.  The story was about February.  March has looked nothing like February.  I hate Hillary more and more each day and yet I started the whole process only disliking her some.  Not sure how all these wounds get healed at this point.

[ Parent ]
The loser is going to have to be the VP nominee (4.00 / 1)
This is seeming more like 1960 to me than it seems like 1968.  That seems to be the only way that the party will be able to be relied upon to rally around the winner.

[ Parent ]
No! Obama ain't Hillary's Stepin Fetchit! (0.00 / 0)
If Obama wins he should say thanks and bye -

If Hillary wins all Obama should do is play nice after her speech at the convention and let her have it.  I would loose all respect for him if he did anything more than that. Just because Hillay needs a step-n-fetch-it doesn't mean Obama has to be sent to hell.

No, Hillary has gone across the line and I don't care who calculates what - this is beyond anything that has ever been seen in the Democratic Party so Brendan Nyhan can do all the linear regressions he want - they are just a joke.


[ Parent ]
This is beyond anything that has ever been seen in the Democratic Party (0.00 / 0)
really?!!

Beyond when Strom bolted in 1948?  Or when the Party completely split in 1860?  

Or hell, beyond the clear anti war vote in 1968 that was completely abrogated by a combination of the RFK assassination and the convention?    

This is mild.  There is no ideological difference.  They are just playing hardball.  And when someone wins, the very distinct coalitions brought together by the two candidates will have to be reconciled.  When this gets more bitter, this probably will only be able to be settled by making the loser the VP nominee.  Just like the Dems did in 1960 when LBJ lost to his very bitter rival.

Or hell, like the Republicans had to do in 1980 due to the animosity between old Bush and Reagan.  


[ Parent ]
I'd say that us African-Americans might (0.00 / 0)
be ready to bolt depending on what happens so there indeed could be a seismic shift.  

[ Parent ]
that makes sense (0.00 / 0)
a lot does depend on exactly what happens, and how the candidates themselves react to what happens.  But saying that what we've seen so far is even close to being the most divisive democratic primary to date is just simply false.  And I do hope that Obama just KO's Clinton in PA so that none of this comes up.  

If we had some form of proportional repressentation, I'd probably have bolted in the mid 90s, so I completely udnerstand the sentiment.  Actually, with minority-majority CDs, an African-American third party might be much more viable than most third parties would be.


[ Parent ]
This could either be (0.00 / 0)
A nomination campaign that greatly helps Democrats and leads to a landslide in November or a bloody battle in which the party is split it to.

I can honestly see ways that this could be a repeat of 32 and I can honestly see ways this could be a repeat of 68. But worse.

For one. If Hillary Clinton stops the Republican attacks and they have a honest debate for the rest of the season. Obama wins because of a stronger activist network. When it becomes apparent that he will win Hillary Clinton gracefully steps aside and enthusiastically endorses and campaigns for Barack Obama. The energy Clinton has brought into the campaign must also go into November. If that means she has to be on the ticket, so be it. I view her attacks on Obama frankly as betrayal of the party and so I hope that is not so. But if it has to be then it has to be. I can honestly see that ticket crushing John McBush and bringing possibly a 60 seat majority in the Senate.

The other possibility is that there is a drawn out primary were right-wing attacks propel Hillary Clinton though the rest of the primaries. Then with dirty credential committee tricks, super delegate dealing and stealing pledged delegates she wins a close nomination fight during the convention. There are massive protests, prominent Democratic officials resign. Open war in the party. McCain takes advantage and crushes Clinton in the GE. Democrats don't pick up any new Senate seats and lose a few in the house. More war, more hate, more corruption and more lies.

It is really hard to know what will happen. This has been such a weird primary season so far. I sure hope it's closer to one though. But honestly I am mentally preparing for the second scenario.    

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


I'm going with an attempt by HRC at #2 but (0.00 / 0)
failure in the end.  

[ Parent ]
That's what I am thinking too (0.00 / 0)
I think she might try but all the grassroots forces will rebel and some powerful party people will threaten to quit and the supers will do what is right for the party.


John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
hate to play neutral observer again (0.00 / 0)
But to all the posts above -- look in the mirror at your own actions before blaming the other side as it were. If you find yourself saying Clinton or Obama -- depending on your candidate- should tone it down. Then you aren't paying attention. It's both of them that have been getting more intense lately. Tryng to say - no its just one will only guarantee it will continue because its in fact been both.

There is a qualitative difference in the kinds of attacks (0.00 / 0)
and Clinton's are far more damaging to an Obama candidacy than vice versa. Obama has never said that McCain is more qualified or better prepared in any area, Clinton has. Of course there are attacks on both sides, but all attacks are not equal.

[ Parent ]
Oh please (4.00 / 1)
On the one hand you got a candidate saying McCain is better (bad), but on the other you have one calling the other candidate a monster through surrogates (also bad). And I know this is American Idol (sorry Freudian slip) -- America- but you people need to realize that some of us pay attention from more than moment to moment. How many times have Obama used right wing frames in this election? Several- I am sure you can rationalize them in your mind- ie, Reagan, Social Security, secularism, and on and on- but none of its justified, and it all leads to the same thing- the demonization of Democrats. So please spare me the whole "her sins are worse" shtick. They are both engaging in these acts, and they should both be condemned for them. It' s that simple because otherwise, we have what you are doing- parsing as if there is a difference where non exists

[ Parent ]
its not a moral parsing (0.00 / 0)
its a strategic parsing. Clinton's attacks hurt Obama in the General far more than Obama's would hurt her.
i want to win, thats all.  

[ Parent ]
It's you spinning, and like I just told another (0.00 / 0)
crazy Clinton supporter trying to parse. Yeah, I've had it up to here with both sides.  I am not buying into your bullshit. You are talking to the wrong poster. Go find someone who will play into these games the two camps are playing. With me, I see you for what you are: Shills.

[ Parent ]
Sad comment (4.00 / 1)
You start the thread claiming to be a neutral observer and then end the thread hurling insults.  You are no more neutral than anyone else.  Just more arrogant.

I think of people like you in the terms C. Wright Mills did: "so then reason becomes reasonableness."  You instinctively pursue the middle ground, rather than following where reason may lead you, even if that means to more radical territory.  The attacks of this campaign have not been equal, and they have been instigated by Clinton, and the ones she is leveling are more damaging to the party going forward.  That is a reasoned assessment.  You might not agree with it, but don't claim I am unreasonable just because I'm taking sides.      

The Politics of Bruno S.


[ Parent ]
I remain neutral (0.00 / 0)
 It's your own shilling that's the problem, not my ability to see it for what it is.  Indeed, attacking me only convinces me more of your shilling. So, you just keep spinning like a top. It may make you feel emotionally better, but it doesn't change what you are- a shill.

[ Parent ]
Shilly-shill, shill, shill, shill, shill (0.00 / 0)
How about trying to form a coherent argument rather than naming calling. Shill, Shilly-shill, shill.  Lame.

The Politics of Bruno S.


[ Parent ]
stop being a dick (0.00 / 0)
its unbecoming, and i have been nothing but civil.

[ Parent ]
The vast majority of voters (0.00 / 0)
probably aren't as squeamish about negative campaigning as the media and the blogosphere are.  They're not personally invested in a belief in the supreme virtue of any particular candidate (Thank God!).  They realize that these people are politicians--this is the life they have chosen, and it gets a little rough sometimes. 'Twas ever thus.

No there is a character rating... (0.00 / 0)
That's what the 'negative' ratings are all about and why people become 'independent'

[ Parent ]
Shouldn't it depend on what form the divisivness (0.00 / 0)
manifests itself in? I mean you can't expect certain communities of voters to come back if you intentionally alienate them to get other voters right?

Also, it seems that there must be a point where there are diminishing returns from a lengthy primary. I'm pretty sure we're at that point. Now we're getting into, Oh the Dems are stupid and I'm not voting for __, territory.  


On the ground in NC (0.00 / 0)
The commenters are getting off track (won't name names).

The thrust of Chris's post is dead on: Instead of worrying that we might not have a quorum for our upcoming precinct meeting (in NC we have mandatory precinct meetings in every precinct statewide next week, the first stage of the process that leads to the county, district, state, and national conventions and every other facet of party building) my worry as precinct chair (no "captains" here) is that the room reserved at the local library branch will not be big enough!

Visit DebateScoop for political candidate debate news and analysis.


good post--a little history (0.00 / 0)
I agree with Chris--this long season has been a big boost to the party itself, the 50-state strategy, and if our candidates stay calm, to their chances of defeating McCain in November.  Some of you may be interested in how we got this proportional representation system, which imho has been working pretty well.
http://www.politico.com/news/s...

This is almost certainly wishful thinking (0.00 / 0)
Of course parisan ID would go up in an extended democratic primary.  This doesn't mean we will win in november.  It just means those who are normally declared independants are invested in the party right now a bit more than usual.  

The major question is virually unanswerable since it deals with counterfactuals: how might we have performed versus how will we perform?  I would suggest, however, that you should be extremely careful in ruling out the potential damage of Clinton's attacks on Obama.  

If he does not become the nominee at this point, it would be a disaster for the democratic coalition and its future growth.  African Americans would be offended and feel betrayed.  We will lose any election in which they do not turn out and vote above 85% democrat.  Obama's young voter base will be the next generation of party activists and support base.  They are not as partisan as other democrats, however, and I don't find it inconceivable that many could find McCain attractive.  Clinton, in order to avoid such a disaster, needs to find a way to win the nomination with a tremendous amount of legitimacy, and I can scarcily imagine such a scenario.  

Of course, the solution could be for Obama to accept a VP slot, but as this thing grows uglier, a joint ticket becomes more and more unlikely.  And speaking as an Obama supporter, I find it incredibly annoying and duplicitous that Clinton will in one breath claim that only she and McCain are worthy of the Presidency on the national security grounds, and in the next talk about a joint ticket with Obama.    

The Politics of Bruno S.


For the Clintons its all about "the win" - nothing else matters (0.00 / 0)
You mainly have it but please understand for the Clintons its all about getting the nomination - right now nothing else matters.  They figure they can patch it all up later but they can't.  This is 2008 not the 90's and things have changed.  Her little snide smiles, Bill's racism, their constant lies will all be floating around on the net well past the General election.

The other thing that the main posting we are all responding to misses is that we now have race and sex tied into the equation.  If the Black Community isn't EXTREMELY PISSED with the Clintons I can't imagine why not.  From what I've seen the white feminist community simply hates Obama.  One will win and the other loose.  There is damage ahead for us and its time we admit it!


[ Parent ]
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