“Unity” is More Than a Town in New Hampshire

As Barack Obama is finding out, if polls are any indication:

One week after Sen. Hillary Clinton made a public show of unity with Sen. Barack Obama, a new survey suggests supporters of the New York senator are increasingly less likely to follow her lead.

A growing number of Clinton supporters polled say they may stay home in November instead of casting their ballot for Obama, an indication the party has yet to coalesce around the Illinois senator four weeks after the most prolonged and at times divisive primary race in modern American history came to a close.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Friday, the number of Clinton supporters who plan to defect to Republican Sen. John McCain’s camp is down from one month ago, but — in what could be an ominous sign for Obama as he seeks to unify the party — the number of them who say they plan to vote for Obama is also down, and a growing number say they may not vote at all.

Reading through the comment sections on a number of lefty blog I ran across quite a few commenters who claim they’ll not be voting for Obama for various reasons. Kos even put out a post saying he wasn’t going to reward “bad behavior” (i.e., Obama’s move to the right) with a donation. And the latest thing which has put them off is the seeming softening of his stance on late term abortions.

Whether or not those commenters actually hold to what they’re saying remains to be seen, of course, but at the moment they don’t seem to be quite as happy with their “new” politician as they once were.

Anyway, the latest numbers:

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey completed in early June before the New York senator ended her White House bid, 60 percent of Clinton backers polled said they planned on voting for Obama. In the latest poll, that number has dropped to 54 percent.

In early June, 22 percent of Clinton supporters polled said they would not vote at all if Obama were the party’s nominee, now close to a third say they will stay home.

In another sign the wounds of the heated primary race have yet to heal, 43 percent of registered Democrats polled still say they would prefer Clinton to be the party’s presidential nominee.

That number is significantly higher than it was in early June, when 35 percent of Democrats polled said they preferred Clinton to lead the party’s presidential ticket.

You’d think that those numbers would begin to come down at this stage, instead of going up. It would seem the disappointment of a Clinton loss has been exacerbated by Obama’s rather clumsy move toward the center. Clinton supporters reluctant to vote for Obama may be using that move to the right as further justification for not voting for Obama (as if Clinton wouldn’t have tried the same maneuver).

While it is way too early to give this poll much credence, it is, still, a potential problem for an Obama candidacy. If a third of the Clinton supporters do indeed stay home and a decent number of them cross over and vote for McCain, it could spell real trouble for Obama. As he’s finding out, unity doesn’t become a reality just because you announce that to be the case in a town called Unity.

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