Politics

Is Ongoing Democratic Campaign Good or Bad for the Party?

Significantly different views between Obama supporters and Clinton supporters

PRINCETON, NJ -- Six out of 10 Democrats say the continuing campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is doing more harm than good for the Democratic Party, up slightly from the percentage who felt this way last month.

This overall negative view of the impact of the continuing campaign among Democrats masks significant variations in attitudes based on candidate support.

Democrats who support Barack Obama are well above the overall Democratic average in their beliefs that the continuing campaign is doing harm. This is no doubt because Obama is the current leader in both the popular vote (excluding Florida and Michigan) and the overall delegate count. Continuing to campaign has very little upside potential for Obama and a lot of downside potential -- as may be occurring now, with Obama having to deal with continuing controversies surrounding his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The recent events probably contribute to Obama supporters' even greater likelihood to view the continuing campaign as harmful than was the case a month ago.

On the other hand, Democrats who support Hillary Clinton have much more mixed views. A slight plurality of 45% say the continuing campaign is doing more good than harm, while 43% agree that it is harmful. Again, given that Clinton's only realistic chance of winning the nomination is to continue to campaign and hope events will help convince superdelegates to switch and vote for her, this pattern is not surprising.

And, in the opposite reaction to that measured among Obama supporters, Clinton supporters have become slightly more positive about the impact of the continuing campaign than they were a month ago.

Implications

These data reinforce the degree to which the two groups of Democrats, as defined by the candidate they support, view the campaign world from significantly different perspectives. On average, Democrats appear to agree that the continuing campaign is harming their party's chances of winning in November. Obama supporters have become even more hardened in this view over the past month as they have watched the negative news that has surrounded their candidate. In contrast, Clinton supporters have become a little more likely to believe that the continuing campaign may not be so harmful after all.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup Panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,008 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 25-27, 2008. Gallup Panel members are recruited through random selection methods. The panel is weighted so that it is demographically representative of the U.S. adult population. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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