Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Unity Gap

After winning big in West Virginia yesterday, Hillary Clinton says she is "more determined than ever to carry on this campaign." Great.

The results were pretty staggering. In the end, Obama only secured 26% of the vote while Hillary racked up 67%. That's a little more than two Hillary votes for every one Obama vote. As an interesting comparison, John McCain won 76% of the vote and he's running unopposed! It's incredible that Clinton was anywhere near him.

Now, this was obviously the expected result. Polls had been showing Clinton way ahead for a long time in WVA. Obama kind of just gave up on the state and didn't really do much campaigning there. So this was not a shocker.

Still, it's upsetting in terms of what it means for Democrats. At this point, there's really no question that Barack Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee. The race has been all but called for him. He has the money, the votes, the states, the pledged delegates, and the super delegates.

So why is he still losing races?

Party leaders keep saying that no matter how divided the party is now they have no doubt that everyone will come together and support the nominee in the fall. And that may turn out to be true. But I'm troubled by the lack of unity coalescing behind the obvious standard bearer so far. When it became clear that McCain was going to be the nominee, the Republicans all jumped right in line. Four years ago, the same thing happened for the Democrats behind Kerry. For whatever reason, that isn't happening now.

It's tempting to blame Hillary for the lack of unity and there's no question that she's playing a part. But it's not all her. Whether it's race or ideology or something else entirely, there's something that's keeping the Democratic Party split. And unless we can figure out what it is and fix it, we're in real trouble come November.

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