Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's Nice Being on the Same Page as Broder

In his column today, Dean David Broder takes on the same question I addressed in my article last week: Could the prolonged Democratic nominating contest hurt Obama's chances in the general election?

Like my story, Broder concludes that if the contest goes through the last primary on June 3, Obama should be fine. However, Broder makes a few points that I didn't address and support the idea that the long nomination contest could hurt Obama.
...the iron law of politics is that time lost can never be completely recovered. Since McCain effectively cinched his nomination in February and mostly fell out of the news, he has accomplished a lot. He has targeted potential constituencies with appearances and messages tailored for them, knowing that other voters probably are not paying attention. One week recently he was hanging out with civil rights heroes and hurricane victims. Another, he was courting conservative critics of the judiciary and plugging for more business tax cuts.

After the convention, McCain can't stroke such disparate groups without being challenged for inconsistency. But for now, it's an almost cost-free way to expand and solidify his support.

Obama needs to do similar work, but because the nomination fight goes on, he doesn't have the time or relative obscurity to do it. To take but one example, primary results all across the country have shown that he is a stranger to many Latinos. If Clinton weren't still challenging, he could easily devote a week to a swing through Hispanic enclaves from California to New York.
All good points. Broder then highlights the nominating contests in 1968 (Humphrey, Kennedy, McCarthy, et al.) and 1972 (McGovern, Musky, etc.) as examples of how long fights undermine the nominee. That was certainly true in those cases, but let's wait and see if this year's race goes all the way to the convention. I doubt it will.

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