Throughout the year's primary battles, I always made it a habit of asking Clinton supporters whether they believed it would have been far better for their party if it had switched to winner-take-all. The answer was usually the same: no. The proportional system was "fairer," it rewarded front-runners and second-tier candidates, giving them a chance to build support as they became better known to their party, they told me.
Now, I find more and more Democrats -- especially Hillary's supporters -- regretting the present system, which produced an interminable nominating process that has proved to be costly, divisive and politically exhausting. The Democrats come off as the party who can't get its act together, struggling to produce a nominee, while Republicans have picked their strongest candidate early and are confidently gearing up for their convention and the general election to come.
Former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta, who is supporting Senator Clinton, is among those who say he has changed his mind. The GOP's winner-take-all system is far more efficient, fairer and better for the party over the long term, he told me.
Last week, I asked the same question of veteran Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, who is also backing Hillary. After saying she wasn't sure at first, she replied, "Yes, I would go to winner-take-all," recognizing that it would have given her candidate a prohibitive lead at this point in the party primary schedule.
My guess is that this is only the beginning of a party-wide debate over the proportional system, which still has its diehard supporters. But for the time being, it appears that the losers want to switch to winner-take-all and the winners think the present system is as good as it gets.
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