Thursday, March 06, 2008
The new could not dispatch the old -- and the old will not give way to the new. It's a stalemate and they need each other. Now what?
The telling bit of data from exit polls (prior to March 4, but I have no reason to doubt the pattern continues) is that the Obama/Clinton split is along age lines.
Obama wins younger voters. Eighteen to twenty-nine year olds break for him 60-37 percent. They are 14 percent of the electorate. The next older age group, 30-44, breaks for Obama 56-40 percent. They are 25 percent of the electorate.
Folks in demographic middle age (44-59) are 32 percent of voters and nearly tie in their preferences at 48-47 percent.
Older voters (60 and up) lean strongly to Clinton, 55-39 percent. We are 27 percent of the primary electorate.
Clearly, the different generations simply live different realities and these point them to different priorities and allegiances.
All these groups will have to vote together, reasonably enthusiastically, if we are not to end up with a President "Bomb, bomb, bomb" McCain.
There's no reason to think they won't vote together in November, unless either set decides the other is breaking the rules.
The campaigns can decide they have to teach those who are drawn to them that the other side is a bunch of scofflaws, illegitimate Democrats. They can play on the genuine age (and gender and race and economic and cultural) identity differences to make the other side the "bad guys."
This doesn't have to happen. Let's hope our leaders have the maturity to sort this out without inciting their followers to enmity. That really would be proof of ability to govern ...