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Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Protracted Democratic Nomination Fight May NOT Hurt in November

The conventional wisdom, which may well be true, is that if Obama and Clinton continue their battle for the Democratic nomination for president that it will hurt the eventual nominee in the general election. I'm going to take the contrarian view that the opposite may in fact be true.

The number one reason will be that the media LOVES the horse race. Obama v. Clinton will get 3/4 of the press coverage and McCain sitting there waiting for one of them (and praying for Clinton to win) will get the scraps. An old man waiting is not a compelling story - kind of sad actually. As long as the Dems keep it clean, this is a positive considering most people already want to vote against the Republicans. McCain won't get free TV time to say, "Hey, I'm not Bush!" (an argument that he may well undercut himself, see below). But remember: KEEP IT CLEAN!

Secondly, the Dems will continue to have nationally televised debates (i.e., more free media) that will not have a Republican counterweight since there will be no more Republican debates. (I suppose there could be one more McCain v. Huckabee v. Paul debate but Huck will get his V.P. deal and Paul has a primary challenge for his House seat to worry about soon.) Since the broad strokes of both Dems platforms will be relatively similar compared to the Republican platform, the approximate eventual party platform will be being sold to the American public for a long time in a public way. That's good for the eventual nominee, whomever it is. Furthermore, the nominee will be battle tested and very prepared for the subsequent debates with McCain.

Also, McCain won't be able to move toward the center as most party nominees do once they've been coronated because he won't be able to sit back and count on his base being all sewn up. (On the Dem side, THIS point may be a negative, I will admit.) He will constantly need to stroke them, which will cost him credibility with Independents. This, BTW, isn't speculation. We already saw this when McCain almost destroyed himself last year when he first began to pander to the far right. (And all signs say that they will make him jump through hoops like a trained bear - and then they still probably won't vote for him.)

Of course, I may be wrong, and none of this changes the fact that I think Obama would be the best candidate (not to mention president) even if was declared the nominee today. However, I don't think it is the worst thing that we are having so much democracy this year. (Unless, of course, we get a reversal of the public's will - whatever that may be - by the superdelegates. THAT would hurt the nominee more than anything else a long fight would do.)


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