Who Is Picking the Democratic Nominee?

I’ve already commented on one weak argument from the pro-Clinton blog, Talk Left, yesterday. There is yet anther related argument posted there. Jeralyn, like many other Clinton supporters, tries to make a case that it is bad that so many independents are supporting Obama. She quotes The Washington Times:

[recent] polls showed Mr. Obama was leading among independents by double digits in Texas and Ohio, the fastest-growing voting bloc in the electorate. Independents made up 22 percent of the vote in the 22 contested Democratic primaries held thus far, and Mr. Obama has won them by a margin of 64 percent to 33 percent, according to a tabulation conducted by the Associated Press.

This looks like a good thing for Democrats. After years as a minority party, Obama is bringing in large numbers of independents to vote for him. Jeralyn doesn’t see it this way and writes:

Who’s really picking our Democratic nominee? If it’s the Democratic youth or African American voters, I’m okay with that. That’s fair. If it’s Republicans, I’m not. We’ll get trounced in November. Without reliable stats to show Obama’s support is from those who will for the Democrat in November, I’d say the best way to ensure Republicans stay out of our race and don’t steal another election from us is for Dems to vote for Hillary to be the nominee.

I guess it depends upon what the definition of what a Democrat is. If by Democrats we are speaking of only those people who voted Democratic when the Democrats were losing most elections, then Obama is being picked partially by others. Even that is somewhat misleading because besides receiving a large majority of independent votes, Obama receives a substantial number of votes from long time Democrats. A large majority of Democrats tell pollsters that they would find Obama to be an acceptable candidate regardless of their first choice.

If by Democrat we mean people who will vote Democratic in November if there is the right nominee, then Obama is being picked by Democrats as a consequence of Obama bringing more people into the party. This is the only way that Democrats can win national elections. Democrats who have been Democrats for years represent a minority of the electorate. Democrats won in 2006 due to the support of independents, and they must keep that support if they are to continue to win. If the independents stay home or vote Republican in 2008, then the Republicans will win.

People who vote for a candidate in a primary typically also return to vote for the candidate in November. While there might be a few Republican trouble makers, most of the independents voting for Obama are voting for him because he is the candidate they prefer, regardless of party. There also are some Republicans who are voting for Clinton, knowing that she will be the weaker candidate.

Numerous polls verify my take on the situation. In both national polls and multiple state polls Obama beats McCain but McCain beats Clinton. Many independents will vote for Obama but not for Clinton.

If the goal is winning in November, this makes it a no brainer to support Obama. The concern that Republicans are picking the nominee is also nonsense as we are speaking of independents. Somewhere along the way in making her argument, Jeralyn substituted Republicans for independents. This comes down to whether you accept independents have a vote towards picking the nominee, which is not the same as independents outright picking the nominee. Again the question is whether you want to win. One way to bring independents into the Democratic Party is to get them involved in the primaries. It is good for the party if they vote for Obama in the primaries and then in November.

Victory is not the sole concern. If independents were flooding Democratic primaries to make John McCain the nominee then Democrats such as Jeralyn would have justifiable cause for alarm. However we are speaking of Barack Obama, not John McCain or some other conservative. Obama has received the endorsement of MoveOn and the support of many Democratic Party liberals including Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Russ Feingold. lObama is more liberal than Clinton on foreign policy, civil liberties, restricting the power of the executive branch, defending separation of church and state, drug policy, and on social issues. If you consider making health care more affordable for those who cannot currently afford it, as opposed to dwelling on mandates, then Obama has the stronger health care plan. Obama’s economic policies do more to help the poor and middle class. For example, The Washington Post compared the economic stimulus plans of each candidate. Obama’s plan earned an A- while Clinton’s plan received a C-, barely beating John McCain’s D+. While some Democrats might disagree with Obama on some issues, making the Obama the nominee is hardly a compromise of Democratic principles.

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  1. 1
    Wayne says:

    Doesn’t Jeralyn study history? In 1980 and past, Reagan and George HW Bush got elected because of “Reagan Democrats” voting republican. In 2008, Obama has a good chance to win because, in part due to “Obama Republicans” and in part because the radical right wing will stay home in a McCain-Obama election, due to the disdain for McCain, but who will vote for McCain if he is the ABC (anybody but Clinton) candidate.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    The analogy to Reagan Democrats is the obvious comparison here, with it working to the benefit of Democrats this time. I decided to leave out references to Reagan Democrats in the post because we’ve already seen how many Clinton supporters respond to a mention of Reagan. To them the mere mention of Reagan is bad, regardless of what is actually being said.

  3. 3
    Christopher says:

    I think following Hillary’s troubling meltdown this weekend where she screeched about Obama’s claim to part the sky and the light from heaven will shine down, even her supporters (the few she has remaining) realize the party is over and it’s time for her to concede.

    The problem is, who will tell her the 9th inning is over? Paul Begala? James Carville? Or Bill Clinton? Hillary has vowed to take her fight “all the way to Denver and beyond.” What does the “beyond” mean? Will she file a lawsuit to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida? If she prevails, she will destroy the Democratic party and hand the 2008 election to John McCain.

    Is her ego truly so big? Or, is it something more disturbing about her psychological state that she simply refuses to accept the fact that the voters keep rejecting her and her message?

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