Although I’ve expressed concern in the past that the public is absorbing their opinion of McCain from a fawning press and it’s hard to get any traction on him, I don’t think the extended primary is to blame. And like Digby, I’m not convinced that the primary situation is bad for Democrats at all:
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.
When I watch my teevee I marvel at the self-absorption of the beltway bores and their fascination with covering the gotcha-du-jour — all the while the seismic shift in the way politics is being conducted goes relatively ignored.
I can only guess that when the tectonic plates move this dramatically the people standing on them are slow to sense it. But the ability to raise millions of dollars in small donations online in a heartbeat based on a great speech or a well-played political moment dwarfs by several factors of magnitude anything that can be done in a room full of hedge fund managers and their checkbooks. Function is catching up with form. Politicians need not promise one thing to the public and another thing to their backers because the public now is their backer. The effect this is going to have on politics long-term cannot be overstated.
Meanwhile, tens of millions of those dollars are being poured into identifying Democratic voters and getting that information into usable databases. I’ve written about it here and here, but the advantage that the Republicans have had since the mid-nineties with regard to their Voter Vault is being wiped away in a heartbeat.
One pundit after another continues to bemoan the damage that an extended primary is doing to the Democrats, without any awareness of the concomitant changes in electoral politics that are rocking their world.
Rather than saying " Democratic leaders resigned themselves yesterday to a prolonged and potentially damaging battle," someone needs to be writing that "an extended Democratic primary is an unmitigated disaster for the Republicans."
Because it is.