Still, there are two ways to look at this, analysts say. One is to say, if it's this ugly in March, imagine how bad it will be if the nomination race drags all the way to June, when the final contests are held, or even to the convention in August. The other is to stand back and say: It's only March. Once the Democrats have a nominee – even if that's not decided until August – the party will rally around him or her and have plenty of time to take on McCain.
"Of course Democrats are concerned," says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. "They'd love to have a nominee organizing for the fall. And they are concerned about the vicious things being said back and forth."
Still, he adds, "I'll bet you a dollar to your dime that the Democrats come back together and unite behind their candidate…. In the end, it's the big things that matter. People will vote on the economy and the war and their feelings about President Bush and their feelings about the two candidates, period."
Other factors weigh in the Democrats' favor for the fall: their large fundraising advantage and record-breaking turnout in primaries and caucuses, far surpassing Republican turnout when the GOP nomination race was still competitive.
The news this week that Democratic voter registration in Pennsylvania has surged to record levels, more than 4 million, compared with Republican registration of 3.2 million also bodes well for the Democrats. Some of those new "Democrats" are reportedly Republicans who plan to vote for Clinton to keep the Democratic nomination race going, but analysts say mischiefmakers are not a large part of the total.
The registration numbers out of Pennsylvania "may be the most underrated news of the week," says independent pollster Del Ali.