I believe that the closeness of the race between Clinton and Obama has been due to the fact that they are both extremely strong candidates, which is a good thing, IMO.
Hillary Clinton is one tenacious woman, and I admire that about her. She never gives up, and in almost all situations that is a great attribute for anyone to have.
In the end I'm glad the race was allowed to run until the very end, and that all states got their chance to vote - even though at some points I was just wishing it was all over :)
The obvious benefit for the Democratic party is that they now have an enormous advantage going into the GE in terms of voters already registered and motivated (and more to come with Obama's voter registration drive), and many many names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to utilise in the coming months.
The obvious downside is the current polarisation of the party in terms of which candidate they supported, and the hurt feelings on both sides that come from such a hard-fought race. I have every hope that this will lessen over time, and that Democrats will be able to come together over the next few months in order to defeat the Republicans.
Gallup have come out with a new poll today - it's a big one - and very interesting - An Early Gallup Road Map to the McCain-Obama Matchup. It seems to me that this may be the best set of numbers that McCain can hope for - and that as the Democrats move into full GE mode, the only way for his numbers to go is down. (That's how it is in my happy world, anyway!)
Here are couple of interesting stats from the poll:
Perhaps one of the greatest divides in the 2008 election will be along age lines, with Obama demonstrating great appeal to younger voters, but not faring as well among senior citizens. Obama leads McCain by 23 points among voters aged 18 to 29, while trailing McCain by 12 points among those 65 and older. The two run about evenly among the two middle age groups.
Obama did not fare well against Hillary Clinton among Hispanics in the 2008 primaries, but the early indications are that he will do well among this increasingly Democratic group in the general election. The May data show Obama with a 62% to 29% advantage over McCain among Hispanics.
McCain -- like Republican candidates before him -- is the heavy favorite in the South. Obama leads McCain in the East and West. The Midwest may be the most competitive region this election, with Obama currently maintaining a slight advantage in his home region.
As is typically the case in U.S. presidential elections, the Republican candidate is running better among male voters, while the Democrat fares better among women. The data show McCain with a six-point advantage over Obama among men, and Obama leading McCain by the same margin among women.
My final thought/question - which crystallised for me earlier this evening - is for those Democratic voters who are unhappy enough with the outcome of the race (for whatever reason) to consider either not voting at all this year, writing in another name, or voting Republican.
The candidate of your choice - whether it's Obama, Clinton, Edwards or any of the other people who ran - is still, at the end of all this, an active member of the Democratic party.
Hillary, for example, is still a Senator who (presumably) will wish to continue being a Senator in the short-term, with perhaps another role in the medium to long term.
Her continuing role in the Senate - the ability for her to introduce and pass legislation that she (and you, as a Democrat) deeply believes in - will be directly impacted by whether November brings a Democrat or a Republican to the White House, as well as the numbers of Democratic candidates selected in the down-ticket races.
By not voting Democrat at the GE, I would argue that you will be putting Hillary's effectiveness as a Senator at risk.
By not voting Democrat, you are not voting for your candidate's party! Hillary is a Democrat! Does it not make sense to vote for her party - and thereby improve the political environment which obviously means so much to her and in which she works so hard...
I'm sure there's a ton of legislation that Clinton and the rest of the Democratic party would absolutely love to be able to pass over the next four years, should they win the election. The ability for much of that legislation to pass, to a large extent depends upon a) a Democratic President and b) a large number of Democratic Senators and Congresspeople. Each and every person who votes Democrat in the fall will be a part of making that happen.
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