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The Value of the Extended Democratic Primary
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, April 28, 2008

Congressional Quarterly says some Republicans believe the drawn-out Democratic primary campaign is going to hurt Democrats in the general election...
When the returns from Pennsylvania’s Democratic presidential primary rolled in last week, they cast a ray of hope into, of all places, the doleful offices of the people plotting this year’s Republican congressional campaign.
[...]
Their calculation is that, if the Clinton vs. Obama contest drags on for months more, with each senator working to damage the other in search of an advantage, both will end up bloodied and bruised no matter which one is awarded the nomination.
I think this is a seriously misguided calculation.

While it's certainly possible that the primary season attacks could diminish Democratic turnout in some respects, I'm not sure the media-dominating, soap opera, pop phenomenon nature of the Democratic primary fight is going to ultimately diminish turnout.

But that misses the real value of this drawn-out primary. Every time the Barack Obama VS Hillary Clinton primary campaign drags on to another State, that's one more place that two incredibly effective organizing and mobilization operations get to reach, recruit and organize tens of thousands of new Democratic voters.

Democrats have invested a lot of time, money and resources in new tools, new activists and a renewed prioritization of grassroots organizing and mobilization. Sure, they may be burning some bridges among those who pay attention this early in the campaign cycle, but every contested State in the Democratic primary is a State in which the Democrats have two powerful operations drilling for news voters. That's going to benefit Democrats in November, both in the Presidential race and down-ticket, too.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Yeah, but how many of those new voter registrations are the idiot 21 year olds who signed on for Obama’s children’s crusade but will be too busy to head down to the voting booth come November?

I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying it’s unlikely.
 
Written By: RDub
URL: http://
I think it is a mixed result - some will decline to support the eventual candidate, as noted others just won’t bother.

However, I disagree that they are doing each other damage that wouldn’t otherwise occur. Fact is they are exposing issues so far from the election that they hope it will be more difficult to bring them up come October when most people actually start to pay attention.

And while they are creating ’organizations’ how much money are they wasting by continuing to buy TV time. Obama spent a new record for PA - that’s alot of liberal donor pockets that are now significantly lighter - which isn’t a good thing - not that either candidate will truly have money issues...

However, I agree that the continued campaign isn’t only a negative - it has potential benefits.
 
Written By: BIllS
URL: http://bills-opinions.blogspot.com
There’s can be fine line between battle hardened and battle weary.

No republican would have been allowed to bring up Rev. Wright without it immediately being turned around and turned into a lecture on negative campaigning. No republican would have been able to bring up Farrakhan, Rezko or Ayers and have it stick.

This extended period has cracked Obama’s shiny coating. Allowing republicans in the future to scrutinize Obama without sympathetic media deflection being immediately effective.

It will have been worth it for republicans for just that even if the rest of the season works against republicans.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
The fact that Howard Dean is drawing a line in the sand for one Dem candidate to drop out by June tends to undercut your conclusions, Jon. Shortcutting the democratic process seems a very extreme action; I can only assume that Dean, too, feels a prolonged battle is bad for Democrats.
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
How many primary States are left after June?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
One of the biggest benefits of a protracted fight is it, in effect, inoculates the GOP against charges of either rascism or sexism that you know many in the press and most of the left are aching to smear McCain and the right with. All McCain has to do now is start each debate question with "as Sen Clinton/Obama pointed out..."
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Ew, I can’t agree with this one. The continued primary has had several major benefits for Republicans. First, they’re spending money. Although it seems like a bottomless well of money, it WILL dry up eventually. Yes, Obama has tons of voters who have donated under the limit, but not many college kids have $2,300 to give. Regardless, that $12M that Obama dropped on Pennsylvania is money that is gone.

Second, and relatedly, this is time and money that is not spent hacking away at McCain, who was broke and the recipient of a deeply divided primary. By focussing on Obama’s shortcomings, the benefit is not that Democrats will be divided, but that McCain has had time to unify the party.

It’s still a tough race for Republicans, but if the Dem primary had been over in February, the general might well be all but over by now.

AND, if Hillary ends up taking this to the convention, which is a longshot but not as implausible as many seem to think, it is good times for Republicans. Especially if she wins.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://
All McCain has to do now is start each debate question with "as Sen Clinton/Obama pointed out..."
True, but you know that won’t matter.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
While it’s certainly possible that the primary season attacks could diminish Democratic turnout in some respects, I’m not sure the media-dominating, soap opera, pop phenomenon nature of the Democratic primary fight is going to ultimately diminish turnout.
Affecting the Democrat turnout was never a question, Jon. These are true believers you’re talking about. THe issue in a race that’s going to come down to a narrow magirn of victory for whoever gets it, ends up bing how many independents each will get. And in that light, it’s clear McCain is betting that all the bickering will be a turnoff for those voters.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
I think pretty much everybody’s right. The question is, where does the balance fall? Only time will tell.

I think the biggest entry in the +Democrat column is what Jon points out, and I think the biggest entry in the -Democrat column is jpm100’s point: Without this fight, Obama probably would have cruised through this election coated in Reagen-esque teflon. That’s probably not on the table anymore, and the media can only pull for him so hard; in the end, if they have to choose between controversy (and therefore eyeballs) and getting their candidate elected, they will choose controversy.

Net-net, if I had to bet I’d still say a net negative, but not as large as some have predicted(/hoped). I still think Obama’s going to have serious problems in the general election. But as I said, only time will tell.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
With Jeremy, I think the prolonged Dem primary is a net negative, though not a huge one.

What’s going to sink Obama, if he’s the candidate as likely he will be, is that he is simply too radical, bizarre and inexperienced. As long as the voters understand that by November, and they will given this length of time, Obama is IMO unelectable.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
McCain is eminently defeat-able.

Incredibly, thus far in the election "discourse" (more dis then course, of course) no one has pounded into Joe American the fact that Bush’s saber rattling in the M.E. is today resulting in near $4 a gallon for gas.

McCain, with Lieberman at his side telling John McCain - Plain Talker, Simple Listener, which side is which, attacking Iran IS NEXT in a McCain presidency. Result ?

How does $8 a gallon sound? Eminently Do-able.

If the worth of the dollar keeps declining, then

$12 a gallon sounds eminently Do-able.

Of course, the corporate media will say these ruinous gas prices are the fault of the Chinese and the Indians, but will never even hint at the true cause of the U.S. gas price doomsday - the fanatical U.S. defense of Israeli occupation of the Occupied Territories. A foreign policy of Invade and Occupy hasn’t made Israel safer in forty years. That may be why McCain is guessing maybe it might work in a hundred years for the U.S.





 
Written By: Juan Man
URL: http://
Bush’s saber rattling in the M.E. is today resulting in near $4 a gallon for gas.
That’s laughable.

Firstly if that alone was the cause, it would have jumped to its current level back in 2002/3.

But the biggest laugh is that the Democrats solution $4 gas was to legislate about $1 more taxes on a gallon.

So go back to talking point central and advise them that gas prices might not be a can of worms they want openned up.

 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Jon, I meant that the fact that Dean is making it loud and clear now (and in fact, has been for the past few months) means that he doesn’t want a neck-and-neck battle going into the convention. There is no other way to read this other than to think that Dean knows this bloodletting is hurting the Democrats.

 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
If anything, the end result of "Bush’s Meddling" is going to be that gas prices were kept under control, instead of oil being used against us as a weapon by radical Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, et. al. who may not agree with each other on everything but would agree enough to make trouble for us. (I do not buy the implicit argument that I should just ignore long term outcomes that is so often put forth, or that Bush is suddenly responsible for hundreds of years of instability and sectarianism. At this point I find the idea that Bush "destabilized" the Middle East to be laughable, ahistorical claptrap, as if it’s ever been some sort of stable.)

The real monetary problem here is wild spending by Congress, and that can’t be uniquely laid at either party’s feet, no matter how much you might like it to be that way. Nor does "the war" explain it, which in monetary terms has been very affordable, or would have been if the government hadn’t continued on spending, spending, spending. Both parties have been spending like drunken sailors.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
the true cause of the U.S. gas price doomsday - the fanatical U.S. defense of Israeli occupation of the Occupied Territories.
And here we have Juan Man’s bottom line. Just throw Israel to the wolves and all will be well. Or maybe they won’t, but who cares—Israel deserves it.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
McCain is eminently defeat-able.
Of course. The Republican brand is in the toilet, and McCain isn’t well received by the base. And his qualifications are margional.

If the Dems loose now, they really need to rethink their party . . .
Incredibly, thus far in the election "discourse" (more dis then course, of course) no one has pounded into Joe American the fact that Bush’s saber rattling in the M.E. is today resulting in near $4 a gallon for gas.
The price is due to the weak $$$ and strong worldwide demand.
Of course, the corporate media will say these ruinous gas prices are the fault of the Chinese and the Indians, but will never even hint at the true cause of the U.S. gas price doomsday - the fanatical U.S. defense of Israeli occupation of the Occupied Territories.
It’s worold wide demand, the weak $, and the fault of Democrats with respect to domestic policy.
A foreign policy of Invade and Occupy hasn’t made Israel safer in forty years.
Of course it has. The threat to Israel has essentially become passive-agressive. The threat still exists, but it hasn’t manifested as tanks and jets crossing the border.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The primary is not killing the Dems regarding turnout.

It is killing them regarding increasing negativity.

It is killing them when it comes to spending millions to kill each other off.

It is killing them when it comes to dredging up Wright, Rezko and Ayers.

It is killing them when it comes to Hillary Clinton making Obama into a human pin cushion.

It is killing them when Bill Clinton ticks off more and more black voters.

It is killing them with Obama’s elitist statements.

It is killing them because McCain is running around and doing his thing virtually unmolested.

Yep, the Dems are not dying because of turnout. They are dying because of everything else.
 
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
Firstly if that alone was the cause, it would have jumped to its current level back in 2002/3.

But the biggest laugh is that the Democrats solution $4 gas was to legislate about $1 more taxes on a gallon.
It’s NOT a linear, flat world. Oil Future prices depend on future perceived availability.

First of all, prices did rise at the time. It was unknown how the oil supply would be disrupted by the U.S.invasion , then occupation. There were even some bamboozled Free Marketer Americans who thought the U.S. would start pumping oil like crazy to deflate the power of OPEC. (Yes, like they thought Free Marketed deregulation of Enron would drive electricity prices down. We know how that turned out, don’t we kiddies? Free Markets - Free People ... People were free to choose between air conditioning and buying food.)

If Iran’s oil supply is taken off the world spigot, it will be a world-wide disaster. If there is PERCEIVED the possibility of that happening, Oil Futures will, pardon the expression, explode.

Next, every gallon of Arab Oil used aids and abets our Islamic Fundamentalist enemies. Our use of their oil constitutes a transfer of wealth from the U.S. (our side) to the Saudi and other Fundamentalist governments - the "evil-doers".
So increasing the tax on gas causes that money to stay in the U.S. .

That is called strategic industrial policy - the most fundamental to national survival policy a nation can have. The Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians and Free Marketers have outsourced U.S. National Industrial Policy to Wall Street. We see how well that is working out kiddies, don’t we.)

If Jimmy Carter would have been able to create a national policy of weaning the U.S. off OPEC Oil the first time OPEC shoved oil barrels up America’s "where the sun don’t shine", we wouldn’t be hostage today. But Wall Street and Dick Cheney’s oil companies had other ideas.

 
Written By: Juan Man
URL: http://
The real monetary problem here is wild spending by Congress, and that can’t be uniquely laid at either party’s feet, no matter how much you might like it to be that way. Nor does "the war" explain it, which in monetary terms has been very affordable, or would have been if the government hadn’t continued on spending, spending, spending. Both parties have been spending like drunken sailors.
How can a person say that something is very affordable if the entire cost has to be borrowed from other nations? That is not logic speaking. Why wasn’t the 1/2 trillion just paid for out of the Treasury?

To grant massive tax cuts to those who don’t need it, at a time of war and occupation, is not only fiscally irresponsible, but it is immoral to future generations of America fetuses.

Yes, Democrats want to pay their way, not to have future generations foot their extravagant adventures.

For this moral position, they are attacked as Tax and Spend Liberals, by the Freeloading, Deadbeat Conservatives of Ronald Reagan. But do Republicans cut-back on the size of Government? Yes, in their campaign ads.

 
Written By: Juan Man
URL: http://
And here we have Juan Man’s bottom line. Just throw Israel to the wolves and all will be well. Or maybe they won’t, but who cares—Israel deserves it.
In the fearless book The Israel Lobby, the story is told of an AIPAC lobbyist having dinner with a reporter that claims "See this napkin? By tomorrow night I could have the signatures of 70 Senators on it."

AIPAC has gained three U.S. Senators. For the record, on the Senate resolution Bush presented to the Senate, which called certain elements of Iran’s military terrorists against U.S. troops in Iraq, and which authorized the president to protect our troops from this danger, 73 (seventy-three) 73 U.S. Senators gave Bush all the permission he would need to start another disastrous military adventure against Iran.

Gas Prices then? $8-12 a gallon.
 
Written By: Juan Man
URL: http://

 
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