Former Hillary Clinton supporters are here in Denver in full force
this week. Those who refuse to support Barack Obama have been called
PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass), and there are basically two ways to think
about them. The narrative has become that they are either bitter or a myth. The answer is somewhere in between.
Clinton attracted a lot of different voters for a lot of different
reasons. The NARAL brand of Clinton supporter was thrilled to see a
woman who would prioritize women’s health and rights, putting these
issues close to the top instead of shuffling them in at the bottom.
Such women are likely to shift their support to Obama, who has received
a high ranking from NARAL on women’s reproductive rights issues.
Then there are former Clinton supporters, like the ones Ezra Klein interviewed
last night, who prioritize a hawkish national security agenda. Some of
them are lifelong Republicans who wanted to see a woman in charge for a
change. But they still feel the terrorism threats. They feel safe with
someone like John McCain, who has pledged to protect America at any
cost–even if that means more war.
In the end, it seems like a mistake to look at Clinton supporters as
monolithic. Some of them will end up supporting McCain, while many who
prioritize reproductive rights will support Obama. Some of them, so
frustrated with the process, will just stay home. Their support depends
on which issues they find most important.