Exit polling during the Ohio primary found that 51 percent of Obama voters would be disappointed if Clinton was the nominee. And 57 percent of Clinton supporters said they would be disappointed if Obama was the nominee.
The carryover to the general election? A survey by the Pew Research Center found that one in four Clinton voters said they would back Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., over Obama, while one in 10 Obama voters said they would vote for McCain if Clinton were the Democratic nominee.
Joe Andrew, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton supporter, said the popularity and anonyminity of the Web is amplifying the debate and making the gulf between Obama and Clinton supporters wider.
"The communication is much more personal and direct. People are saying things to each other they might never say at a union hall or a community meeting," he said. "It's like the wolves are let loose in people's souls."
Mark Green, the president of the liberal radio network Air America, where the trash talking plays out every day on its broadcasts, said he was confident the party will unify this fall.
"There is no doubt that the ardent militants on both sides, the people who drink the Kool-Aid, think that if their candidate does not win, it will be the apocalypse," said Green, New York City's former public advocate, an elected position. "But Clinton and Obama are professionals. The one who loses will hold up the victor's hand when this is through. … Bush and McCain will unite the Democrats far more than Obama and Clinton will divide them."
Andrew, for one, is not so sure.
"The problem is, we have not been through this before. This has the feeling of being different, because this race has gone on so long, and both candidates are so strong and so well financed," he said.
"We are at a dangerous point in the campaign," he said. "On the national level, I don't think party leaders feel it has reached the point where they have to step in, but they have begun talking about how they might step in. But it might be idle chatter, because I am not sure anything could be done."