Will Racial Prejudice Send Old Democrats Running to McCain?
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Here's the first bit of evidence I've seen on how race will matter from the primary to the general.
The vast majority of Democratic voters say they would support either Obama or Clinton over McCain. But in an Obama-McCain matchup, 14% of Democratic voters say they would support McCain, compared with 8% who would do so if Clinton is the nominee.
One-in-five white Democrats (20%) say that they will vote for McCain over Obama, double the percentage who say they would switch sides in a Clinton-McCain matchup (10%). Roughly the same number of Democrats age 65 and older say they will vote for McCain if Obama is the party's choice (22%). Obama also suffers more defections among lower income and less educated Democratic voters than does Clinton.
In addition, female Democrats look at the race differently depending on the matchup. While 93% of women in the party say they would vote for Clinton over McCain, just 79% say they would support Obama over McCain.
A quarter of Democrats (25%) who back Clinton for the nomination say they would favor McCain in a general election test against Obama. The "defection" rate among Obama's supporters if Clinton wins the nomination is far lower; just 10% say they would vote for McCain in November, while 86% say they would back Clinton.
While race is often considered the most important factor, I do not actually think that is the case here. The most obvious parallel, where a sizeable chunk of Democrats chose to vote for an incredibly hawkish maverick style politician with an undeserved reputation for liberal politics, was the 2006 Lieberman-Lamont race. I in fact said that the 2006 Senate race at the time was a test run for John McCain's campaign, and all campaign strategists working on the Presidential race noticed exactly what the limits were of the liberal coalition at that time.
Matt Stoller is a political activist/blogger in DC, and was an editor at MyDD from November 2005 until June 2007. He also consults for the Sunlight Foundation , FreePress.net, and Working Assets as well as proactively networking other progressive bloggers/internet activists and progressive professionals.