Help for Political Junkies

With a 10-point win in Pennsylvania, following a similar win in Ohio, Hillary Clinton can legitimately state that she has momentum going her way. Plus, her campaign claims that they received some $10 million in contributions in the 24 hours following polls closing in the state, including 60,000 donations from new contributors. Anyway you look at it, that's impressive. It's certainly a boost for her campaign and a sign that there are quite a lot of Democrats who want to see her continue on the campaign trail and be able to compete effectively in Indiana and North Carolina.

I'm not one of those Democrats who believes that the long primary season has been bad for the party. When you have record turnout for Democratic primaries, great numbers of new voters registering as Democrats, and large numbers of Republicans and Independents switching their party affiliations in order to vote for Democratic contenders, I see those things as plusses. There's enormous interest in Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the media and in every state they contest. So much interest, in fact, that there is very little coverage of John McCain. Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are each, individually, raising more funds for their primary contests than John McCain is raising now -- Senator Obama raising a whopping $42 million in March; Senator Clinton raising $20 million; and Senator McCain raising a paltry $15 million as his party's nominee.

It is a little troubling that so many Clinton supporters say they will vote for McCain or not vote at all in November if Senator Obama is the party's nominee; slightly more Obama supporters are willing to support Senator Clinton, according to the exit polling. Hopefully some of these hard feelings will heal once the nominee is decided.

While there may not be lasting damage to the party yet, I think there is a potential pitfall for Democratic political junkies. After watching untold hours of primary coverage on TV and reading political blogs, it's easy to start looking at the world in terms of exit poll data. A simple trip to the grocery store turns into a political fact-finding mission as you assess the demographics of your fellow shoppers. What is their age? Income? Race? Are they religious? Is that a rifle in their pickup truck? What causes do they support? Are they for Clinton? Obama? Or, God forbid, Bush-McCain?

Before you start following people out of stores to check their bumper stickers, take a deep breath. First, people should be able to have some politics-free time in their lives. Second, if you're this passionate and committed to the campaign you're probably needed in Indiana or North Carolina for your candidate. Stop harassing little old ladies in your local market and go where you can do some good. Get involved in a positive way and make a difference. If you're not going to actively get involved in the campaign you may need to look for a good 12-step program. But the campaigns could use you.