Pundits in the Democratic Party are a type of teratologist, everything is a defect, another reason for panic mode. It has been a (fun) season of discounting everything Mitt Romney says, but suddenly he bows out of the race and those same pundits now believe what he has to say: that his departure allows a national McCampaign and an increased chance to retain the White House. Let us not panic just yet, things have not changed and as usual Romney is wrong.
The biggest spin for ending the forestalling of a national campaign is that the GOP can now get to work. Yes there is an increased amount of directed work against Obama and Clinton that can now be done than if the GOP contest continues, but there are reasons why this increased effort will not yield increased results. First, the GOP contest does continue. Huckabee has not bowed out (I contend Romney drew from Huckabee and he will now be a resurgent foe for McCain’s machine) and Paul still presses issues, still somewhat distracting McCain. McCain is also distracted by having to now unite the party. The unity messages are the very messages that do not attract and even repulse moderates. This supposed increased time for a national campaign is not that much additional effort at all, and arguably it helps us as McCain’s message until the convention will be more conservative than it would have been had he still been trying to distinguish himself from Romney. Secondly, the GOP dirt machine is already hard at work on Clinton and Obama. They have already been through the process and will continue to go through the process even by Democratic opponents. This ‘lag time’ will not yield any results that would not otherwise be rendered. There are too many talented political assassins to think they were not already at work and that they need these few Romney-free months to actually uncover what there is to uncover.
Another reason why McCain’s imminent nomination is good for us is because competition brings out the best in the candidates. Clinton and Obama, whomever secures the nomination, will have more of the road and the lessons learned under his/her belt than McCain will. There is time for McCain and his advisers to lose touch with the road and the people. Messages that did stick in February will become anachronistic and our side will be up on those nuances.
But the best reason we win with Romney’s abdication is the news coverage. We all know that the message is less important than the exposure. Without a challenger McCain’s coverage will pale in comparison to the coverage the Democratic candidate will have earned. Face time will be lost, news coverage will be lost, sound bites will be lost. Silent candidates are losing candidates and the media cycle will now be forced to give voice to the Democratic candidates. By the time November comes around the public will have 3 additional months of Democratic policy discussions and slogans. While the fight may seem scary it means exposure. The more people are forced to imagine a President Clinton or a President Obama the more appetizing the prospect becomes.
Not the usual pro-Clinton piece here, but there is too much self-defeating panic going on about now. A good example is Doug Kendall’s piece to-day in The Huffington Post. His argument is that the fight to the convention is going to be bad, but he provides only proof that there will be a fight. Even a nasty fight will earn coverage and expose people to the messages informing the fight. Train wreck? Nah. But it is a train and Romney’s withdrawal just means this train will only pick up steam.