Popular Vote, Polarized Vote

In case you haven’t seen it, the Super Tuesday popular vote tally on the Democratic side is insanely close—like, within 100,000 votes or so.

NBC puts it at:  

Clinton 48.97 percent (6,967,302)
Obama 48.04 percent (6,835,447)

Time says :  

Clinton: 50.2 percent (7,347,971)
Obama: 49.8 percent (7,294,851)

Whatever the count, it looks like Hillary won. (Will she accept front-runner status now?) But the tightness of the count bolsters extended-calendar theories, which suggest we could be waiting until Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary for answers. But I also think it boosts the this-could-hurt theory . In previous years, even the most virulent supporters of the loser (think Howard Dean) have had little trouble rallying behind the winner (Kerry). But Dean’s “support” proved empty when he couldn’t sustain it even through Iowa. Both Clinton and Obama, by contrast, have fought and won numerous battles by now. Their supporters have tasted victory, and probably like the flavor.

Sure, most Democratic voters tell pollsters they would be happy if the other candidate won. But the longer this drags on, the more polarized it gets. When it all shakes out, it looks like as many as 50 percent of Democrats will be disappointed.