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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Divisive Dems

by digby

This just makes me sad:

I got yapped at the other day by the Obama campaign after wondering if Sen. Barack Obama was unfavorably comparing Sen. John Edwards to Sen John Kerry, regarding being easily painted as a flip-flopper.

On Monday Obama suggested that Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore were divisive.

In an argument about his electability, Obama compared himself favorably with Sen. Hillary Clinton who is viewed negatively by nearly half the country. Obama is viewed far more favorably by independents and Republicans.

Then he said, per ABC News' Sunlen Miller, "I don't want to go into the next election starting off with half the country already not wanting to vote for Democrats. We've done that in 2004 and 2000. 47 percent of the country on one side, 47 percent of the country on the other . . . We don't need another one of those elections." [also reported in the Chicago Sun Times --- d]

There are reasons why the country has been polarized, but it's not because of Al Gore or John Kerry. (And anyway, Gore won the popular vote by more than half a million votes. There was a little issue down in Florida that lost that one.)

I guess there's nothing wrong with running against former Democratic candidates, but it seems kind of gratuitous. Maybe it'll work, though. Everybody knows that divisive Democrats are the problem (although it's the first time anyone's made a point of that in a Democratic primary. Bold move.) The truth is that we rank and file Dems don't have anywhere to go except out of the political process all together. We can't vote for Republicans, who are completely out of the question. Why not run against the Democratic party? It worked for Bill Clinton, didn't it?

And from the looks of this poll, it's working for Senator Obama too. This could be the road to victory.

Update: Molly Ivors has more. As does Kos and Atrios. (But you knew that...)

Update II: I'm trying to track down where these "47" numbers came from since both Gore and Kerry scored higher in the election, and I'm guessing it's the recent hitjob on Hillary Clinton by Sally Bedell Smith, where she reports a 47% favorability rating for Gore. But I think Bedell Smith's numbers are misleading. Other polls showed Gore with as high as 60% favorables just before the election. Zogby showed him at 53% in April of 1999 and 59% in September 2000.

I'm not accusing Senator Obama of lying. There were a couple of polls that did have Gore with favorabilities in the high 40's just before the election. But unless you believe that Gore was given a free ride by the press and the Republicans --- Kerry too --- you can't hang anything on a candidates' favorabilities a year out. They will all get worked over, as Obama himself has acknowledged. It's the process. But after all is said and done, it's likely that Democrats and Dem leaning independents will like their candidate quite a bit, and that Republicans and Republican leaning independents will not. It's the nature of the two party system. If Al Gore wound up with more than 10% of the people still having a favorable impression of him after all that was done to discredit him, it was a miracle. And yet he won the popular vote.

I'd love for it to not be close this time. And I'm hopeful that it won't be. A mandate would be great. But there's no guarantee that someone who has high favorables a year out can get that done anymore than someone who has high unfavorables, can't. It just isn't dispositive of the question of who can best win.