The battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination has created a deep divide within the party that may be difficult for the eventual winner to overcome, according to Democratic strategist James Carville.
As Carville sees it, there are two “main parts” of the Democratic Party, which he calls “Party A” and “Party B.”
Party A Democrats tend to be urban or suburban, are traditionally better educated, white, more affluent, heavily female, socially liberal and reform-oriented, Carville observes in a column for The Financial Times.
Candidates from this wing include Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy, Gary Hart, Mike Dukakis, Bill Bradley and Howard Dean.
Party B Democrats are comprised of “a more broad coalition of working class people who are generally less affluent, less educated, and look to the federal government to soften the harsher edges of capitalism,” writes Carville, who was Bill Clinton’s campaign manager for the 1992 presidential race and is now a CNN political contributor.
They tend to be either urban or rural, and include labor unions, older voters, and African-Americans.
Candidates from this part include Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Bill Clinton.
In the past, the less affluent Party B has usually won the day, Carville notes. But in the current race, Obama — whom he calls “an almost prototype Party A Democrat” — reaches into Party B’s ranks and wins the African-American vote.
Clinton — “whose message is almost exclusively Party B” — attracts a significant number of older, educated white women, who normally belong in the Party A camp, according to Carville.
The eventual nominee, therefore, will have to “bridge the fissures within the party” and also “find a way to re-embrace those racial and gender identity voters who now find themselves aligned with a new wing of the party,” says Carville.
Specifically, Carville wonders if Clinton can win the vote from African-Americans who supported Obama, and if Obama can attract older, college-educated white women who embraced Clinton.
Carville concludes that for the Democratic nominee, uniting the party “is going to be one demanding, difficult job.”
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