EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG
So it's March and Democratic voters are responding to a bruising nomination fight by threatening to defect to the other party. We're doomed, right?
Well, no. As Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com notes, a March 2000 Pew poll showed similar results -- about George W. Bush and his bruising battle with John McCain. From the Pew survey write-up:
The presidential primary season may prove to be a decisive factor in Campaign 2000, not only for who won, but for the way the winners emerged from the process in the eyes of the voters. Al Gore was clearly helped, and George W. Bush was just as clearly hurt. The vice president has improved his personal image, while making gains among two key groups whose support had eluded him last year, independents and men. In contrast, many people have come to dislike Bush personally, especially former supporters of John McCain. As a consequence, the Texas governor now trails Gore for the first time in a nationwide Pew Research Center survey, by 49%-43%....
We know how that turned out. And as Brian Schaffner of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies notes, the threatened defection rate was worse for Bush than it is for the Democrats now:
What is notable is not that Gallup finds [now] that some Clinton and Obama supporters currently say that they may vote for McCain if their candidate loses, but that the number is so low compared to what it was for McCain ... supporters in 2000. Only 28% of Clinton supporters (and 19% of Obama supporters) say they'd defect if their candidate lost, whereas half of McCain supporters were saying the same thing after he lost his bid for the 2000 Republican nomination.
That mass defection threat didn't pan out. It's far from inevitable that this one will, either.
By the way, please note what Pew survey respondents were saying in March 2000: They didn't like Bush's personality. More evidence that his kinda-sorta win in November wasn't because the public wanted to have a beer with him, but, rather, because the press did, and persuaded a good chunk of the public of his beer-worthiness.
Also note this, from Pew:
...while the public has more confidence in the vice president on most issues, it thinks Bush could do a better job of controlling the price of gasoline....
(Via Memeorandum and Andrew Sullivan.)