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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Going The Distance

by digby

I hate writing about this primary because I'm nearly alone in my opinions and everyone on both sides mistrusts me for them. But what the hell. Last night was not unexpected so I'm a little bit surprised at all the rending of garments this morning. The polls all predicted a Clinton victory of about the percentage she got. I guess people were expecting some sort of late breaking shocker.

It appears obvious now that this campaign isn't going to end until everyone has voted in the primaries. And it's entirely possible that at that point, neither candidate will have been able to reach the magic number. If that's so, then the party rules (much like the constitutional requirement that the election go to the House of Representatives in the case of an electoral tie) the decision will fall to the superdelegates. (They may weigh in sooner rather than later to hit that magic number and that's fine too, although I don't see why it should be required.)

My views are horribly out of step with most of you, I recognize that. But I honestly think it's going to be nearly impossible to lose in the fall (although I think the outside Democratic groups need to start working on McCain's favorables sooner rather than later) so I'm just not feeling the panic about the primary. I like it when the voting process plays itself out rather than having the campaign spin and the media narratives telling the people what they are supposed to do. I've always felt that way. I still don't see this campaign as being particularly harsh by historical standards and I remain where I was at the beginning, believing that either candidate would be a good president and having no qualms about supporting either one of them. I just don't feel particularly emotional about it (except to the extent that I'm personally attacked for failing to feel properly emotional....) In fact, I hardly ever feel emotional about primaries. It's the conservatives (and chickenshit Dems, which neither of these candidates are) who really get my blood boiling.

To me, this primary is actually a good thing for the fall. All this hand wringing strikes me as typical Democratic nervous nellie-ism. A huge increase in Democratic voter registration, building of strong ground operations in most states, new technologies being beta tested, lots of media coverage and battle testing for the nominee are of benefit to the nominee in the fall. Meanwhile, the Democrats stay at center stage while McCain wanders around in obscurity, failing to raise money and leaving a trail of gaffes in his wake. As long as they don't know at whom to aim their fire the Republicans can't cement their narrative. In the end, I remain convinced that we are going into an election that is so fundamentally seismic that either of them can win it, even if more closely than we might want, due to the breakthrough nature of their campaigns. The primary continuing on is not going to change that.

I don't think people realize that the democratization the internet has brought to the system is also one of the main reasons why the campaign goes on. If you think superdelegates are undemocratic, back in the bad old days (of a couple of cycles ago) big party donors pulled the strings by pulling the money when they decided that someone had no chance to win. Today, both candidacies are where they are on the basis of avid small donor supporters contributing online and that's prolonged things past the point where it would have in the past. Thousands of Clinton supporters keep sending her money-- ten million since last night, apparently. So, if you don't like the fact that the campaign continues, blame the internet. It wouldn't have happened under the old paradigm.

Who's going to win? Like most people, I expect it will be Obama, but I can see that the idea of a unity ticket might begin to look like a way for the superdelegates to settle this. I don't think this campaign is hurting him --- he's getting needed experience and learning how to counter punch. (It's also pin pointing the places where he needs to improve his campaign for the fall.) And the fact that Clinton is still winning big primaries and getting campaign contributions makes it ridiculous to expect her --- or any politician --- to quit (no matter what the NY Times editorial board says.) She has a legitimate constituency (nearly half the voters) in the party that wants her to see this through. As Somerby says in response to Maureen Dowd's typically daft (and equal opportunity insulting) column this morning:

This year’s campaign has shown what can happen when a party has two closely-matched candidates. There are potential downsides for the party, as anyone can see. But journos like Dowd think it’s their role to demand that the person they hate should just quit. Those million-plus Democrats [who voted for her yesterday] don’t exist in Dowd’s world. In Dowd’s world, Dowd wants Clinton to quit. And so, by the laws of childish dreams, “the Democrats” must want that too.

Since I don't think the Democratic Party will crumble from the stress of finishing up the primaries (or even a brokered convention for that matter) until Obama officially wraps up the number of delegates and superdelegates to go over the magic number, I think she has a right to continue.

Finally, yes, I'm personally looking forward to the end of this tedious campaign. I'm sure there isn't anyone in the blogosphere who doesn't feel that way. We are set up to fight Republicans, not each other, and this is taking its toll on our communities (and our sanity.) But, you know, that's tough. This is politics, and politics are unpredictable. The blogosphere will survive and so will the party.

For a taste of what harsh attack ads really look like, check out what the Republicans are running down in North Carolina:

This one, done by Floyd Brown of Willie Horton fame is more likely to become a web hit, but I would think we'll see more of this sort of thing too.

St McCain has written one of his patented sanctimonious letters saying that he doesn't approve of these awful ads. He's very upset and wants them to take them down. (Isn't he awesome?) Sadly, they told him no. It's really too bad the presumptive head of the Republican party he really can't control what those terrible people are doing. C'est la vie! At least we all know where St. McCain stands on the issue and that his heart is totally in the right place.

Nice scam, don't you think? I wonder if he can get away with it all the way to November?