While quite a few Democrats worry about lasting damage from the protracted nomination battle, the Democratic National Committee prefers to look on the bright side.
In a memo it just issued, the DNC highlights that the historic candidacies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have attracted nearly 35 million voters so far and added 3.5 million new voters to the registration rolls. The memo, accompanied by a detailed breakdown of figures, also cites reports that 17 of the first 24 primaries drew record turnouts.
"The message this election is clear: voters want change, not the third Bush term they’d get with John McCain," DNC Chairman Howard Dean said in a statement. "Democrats are energized all across the country and we’re competing in all fifty states, proving that if Democrats show up and talk about our values, we will win. As we head towards November, I’m confident we will unite behind our nominee and harness this unprecedented enthusiasm to beat John McCain.”
There's still an open question, however, whether all those voters will unite behind the Democratic nominee. There's a clear demographic divide between the voters supporting Obama -- urban, upscale, young, college-educated, black -- and those backing Clinton -- rural and small-town, blue-collar, older, less educated, white. To win, the nominee, who increasingly looks like Obama, will need to knit together most of those groups.
UPDATE: Blair Latoff, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, issued this response: "Before bragging about turnout in primaries across the country the DNC should have a look at how many Democrat voters consistently said they would vote for John McCain in the general election. John McCain is committed to increasing voter participation across the country and will draw votes from Republicans, independents, and a large number of Democrats."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.