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Posted by on May 12, 2008 in Politics | 2 comments

Poll: 64 Percent Democrats Want Clinton To Stay In Race

The late comedian Joe Besser, the second “Three Stooges” Curley replacement and also known as “Stinky” on the classic 1950s Abbott & Costello Show, used to have a catchphrase: “Not so faaaaaaast!” And that, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll is the attitude of six out of 10 Democratic voters to calls for Senator Hillary Clinton to leave the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination:

Pushing back against political punditry, more than six in 10 Democrats say there’s no rush for Hillary Clinton to leave the presidential race – even as Barack Obama consolidates his support for the nomination and scores solidly in general-election tests.

Despite Obama’s advantage in delegates and popular vote, 64 percent of Democrats in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say Clinton should remain in the race. Even among Obama’s supporters, 42 percent say so.

So this means the poll finds Democrats want to see Clinton as their nominee? Not at all. And the margin in the poll is not even close:

That’s not a majority endorsement of Clinton’s candidacy; Democrats by a 12-point margin would rather see Obama as the nominee, a lead that’s held steadily in ABC News/Washington Post polls since early March. Instead it reflects a rejection of the notion that the drawn-out contest will hurt the party’s prospects. Seventy-one percent think it’ll either make no difference in November (56 percent) or actually help the party (15 percent).

So the poll concides with Clinton’s view of letting the contest go on. It also found that the overwhelming large number of Democrats reject the idea that if the contest goes on Democrats will be unable to unite against the GOPers:

And in a related result, 85 percent of Democrats (including Democratic-leaning independents) are confident the party would come together behind Obama as the nominee — though fewer, 45 percent, are “very” confident of it. That underscores the importance of the endgame for the party’s prospects.

Meanwhile, the ongoing media-driven question about whether Clinton should be on the ticket is received rather favorably by many Democrats:

Clinton continues as the preferred choice as Obama’s running mate, with 39 percent of Democrats saying they’d like him to pick her if he’s the nominee. That peaks at 59 percent of African-Americans, 47 percent of Clinton supporters and 42 percent of women (vs. 34 percent of men).

There’s also an indication that Clinton on the ticket would be a slight net plus in the general election: Among all Americans, more say having her run with Obama would make them more likely to vote Democratic (25 percent) than to vote Republican (18 percent). The rest (54 percent) say it wouldn’t make a difference in their choice.

There are other findings as well — such as Obama now surpassing Clinton as being seen as a “stronger leader.”

But all of this suggests that pressure for Obama to pick Clinton to be on the ticket with him (if he gets the nomination as most expect) could be considerable…and the numbers will be there to back the idea.

One idea that is gathering steam among many political analysts, TV talking heads and bloggers is that the worst thing Clinton could have done to Obama would have been to drop out. Then he would have run unopposed in West Virginia and Kentucky. Better to get clobbered by Hillary — even if Bill Clinton is running around the countryside basically telling voters that Obama looks down on them and is an elitist who doesn’t care about them — to get clobbered by no one else even really running against him. Which is what most think would have happened.