Despite furor over Mrs. Clinton’s claiming support from “hardworking … white Americans,” racial tensions and people who think she has given Republicans ammunition to use against Mr. Obama, the Clinton brand name remains strong, Democrats said.
“How she performed in the primaries … will enhance her brand significantly,” Mr. Grossman said. “Hillary Clinton has done exactly the right thing by staying in all the way to the end.”
“She’s a leader, and she’s very passionate. She’ll stay in until the very last vote is counted,” Mr. Ray said.
Compared with the Republicans, whose outgoing leader is an unpopular president, the Democrats will have Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton as top boosters and fundraisers in the fall, party leaders said.
While Republicans and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh have gloated that the Democratic Party is in such chaos that the bloodshed will help Mr. McCain cruise to victory in the fall, a strong counterargument is that the fight is good for the party.
“Some may see the millions upon millions of votes cast for each of us as evidence that our party is divided, but I see it as proof that we have never been more energized and united in our desire to take this country in a new direction,” Mr. Obama said last night in Iowa.
Others see a bright side to the long-lasting campaign. In previous cycles, the nominees have been mostly decided by the first-in-the-nation contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, which prompted Florida and Michigan to buck party rules in hopes of ending the influence those early states had on the process.
It appeared the battle would be over after Super Tuesday, but when that didn’t happen, voters across the country were treated to something they rarely get: having an election that matters.
As the Clinton-Obama race dragged on, dozens of states had their say and significant influence was assigned to states that have been ignored in previous years, such as North Carolina, Indiana and South Dakota. These states have been treated to multiple visits from the Clinton and Obama families.
Voter registration figures soared, and party leaders in every state said they see a great benefit in an engaged electorate.
“I am uncommitted and loving it,” said Bob Mulholland, a DNC member and adviser to the California Democratic Party.
He supported the DNC’s plan awarding a bonus to states that held their Democratic primaries later in the election calendar.
“This is great,” he said. “The Democrats have added a couple million voters to the rolls. In 2004, when New Jersey held the last primary of the season, we had 10 percent turnout. That was embarrassing.”
Now, the two camps have deployed resources and staffers to each state and territory, far surpassing the groundwork laid by Republicans before their nomination process ended in February.
The battle also has helped vocalize the national Democratic Party message, said Joe Sheeran, a spokesman for the Delaware state party.