Election 2008

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Will Long Primary Hurt Dem Chances in November?

April 11, 2008 10:49 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Party leaders and candidates try to soothe voters’ worries as the national convention looms.

30-Second Summary

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A prolonged Democratic primary season has led many within the party to worry that the drawn-out contest and increasingly sharp attacks between the two remaining candidates could ultimately hurt the party’s chances in the general election against Republican John McCain.

With two weeks to go before the next primary contest in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton by about 140 delegates and more than 700,000 participants in the popular vote.

A CNN poll in late March appeared to validate underlying worries about the party’s chances in the general election, showing that 16% of Clinton supporters would sit out the November contest should their candidate not receive the nomination, with an equal number of Obama supporters saying the same thing.

Since then, party leaders have sought to quell worries that the debate will tear the party in two before its national convention in late August.

The scenario has been compared by many Democrats to the convention struggle between Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy, which some feel led to the party’s inability to beat Ronald Reagan in the 1980 general election.

Party Chairman Howard Dean has repeatedly said in interviews that the party’s nomination would be wrapped up shortly after the final primary on June 3 and would be followed with absolute party unity; the sentiment was echoed by both candidates, if not their supporters.

However, Hillary Clinton, who faces a steep challenge in overtaking Obama in both delegates and the popular vote in the final ten contests, has signaled that she would be inclined to fight for the nomination all the way to the national convention.

Headline Links: Superdelegates and party members wary

Background: Polls show polarized voters

Reactions: Clinton still in it

Opinion & Analysis: “Chill out.”

Key Players: The candidates

Reference: Obama’s lead in delegates

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