Divide and Conquer?
As reported by Cybercast News, a significant 1 in 5 supporters of either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton state that they will vote for John McCain if their candidate does not become the Democrat nominee.
The significant number of potential defectors underscores how divisive the Democratic primary has been.
Democrats won Pennsylvania in the 2000 and 2004 presidential races, but it was a competitive state in both election cycles. McCain, meanwhile, has touted his appeal to swing voters.
"Pennsylvania is a must-win state for a Democratic presidential nominee," Nathan Gonzalez, political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, told Cybercast News Service. "If there is a significant weakness for a Democrat in Pennsylvania, it could indicate a weakness in Ohio or other key states."
Even a few months ago, the presidential race looked like a major uphill climb for any Republican candidate. But recent polls suggest a toss-up between McCain and either Democratic candidate.
Obama and Clinton both have many negatives, which doesn't make the Pennsylvania poll too surprising, said Doris Graber, a political science professor at the University of Illinois.
"Obama is very liberal, more liberal than we've seen on the campaign trail. Also, there is still racism out there," Graber told Cybercast News Service. "Hillary, we've known all along, has strong supporters. But there are also a lot of people who would never vote for her. There is some antipathy from the Clinton years. Some wouldn't vote for her because she's a woman."
Graber believes it is "almost a certainty" that the Obama-Clinton battle will be decided at the Democratic National Convention, which could drive a wedge through the party.
"Democratic voters could be persuaded not to vote for a candidate with vulnerabilities," she continued. "A vote for McCain wouldn't be that difficult. He does appeal to the middle."
Come convention time, even if these two can put on their best shows of loyalty for the sake of their party, if the wounds are too deep and the words have been too harsh, how are the campaign loyalists going to be able to back the "other" candidate, when it does come to that?
And as many negatives are raised and as much dirt is brought to the surface in this race, are those on the political fence going to be able to vote for either of these potential nominees when that time comes, if they see McCain as an attractive, viable alternative?
Time tells all.