Friday, April 11, 2008

The race within the race

Do you think the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is contentious?

There are more than 2,000 Californians running to be delegates to the party's national convention.

There are 241 spots.

But wait! There's more:

Earlier this week, Obama’s and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign took advantage of party rules to purge scores of potential delegates in a bid to ensure that only their loyalists travel to the August convention in Denver where the party will anoint a presidential nominee.

Most of the cuts, about 900 names, were dropped by Obama, leading supporters to complain that they had been unfairly excluded. Clinton’s campaign dropped about 50 names from its list of prospective delegates.

The names were culled without explanation from the campaign or the state party.

Driven by fears that some prospective delegates might be concealing their true allegiances, the campaigns searched campaign finance data, scoured the Internet and made telephone calls to weed out people they believed to be dubious candidates.
I'm familiar with opposition research, but researching the "true allegiances" of eventual convention delegates? This is a new ballgame, and it reflects what the campaigns believe about the convention: Given Hillary Clinton's recent statements vowing to stay in the race, it's likely to become a raucous floor fight for the nod in Denver in August, and each campaign is already girding for battle through delegate selection races like this in states all over the country.

Both the Obama and Clinton campaigns have reversed course and reinstated all of the names they had purged. But bitterness will likely remain among party loyalists.

No wonder there are high numbers of Democrats who profess that they'll be dissatisfied with the other candidate if their candidate is not the nominee.

Party faithful, watch out: The feast of excitement and fervor among voters during the primary process may well translate into a famine of discontent and apathy during the general election campaign.