Don’t come looking here for a postmortem on the Michigan and Arizona primary results. Like many who follow politics, this extra super-duper long Republican primary is simply too exhausting to keep up with – thanks to former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele.
During his mired tenure as head of the party, Steele enjoyed certain victories like the GOP takeover in the House and major gains in state and gubernatorial races. He also came up with the ingenious plan to have an extra long primary season peppered with an endless amount of debates: 20 to be precise.
Steele wanted an extended primary season “… so as to ensure a strong nominee,” Hot Air reported. The Hilary Clinton v. Barack Obama battle made candidate Obama a better candidate and provided significant time for his baggage and dirty laundry – Rev. Jeremiah Wright, flag pins, William Ayres- to air by the time the generals rolled around.
While it is true that in 2008 Barack Obama hadn’t secured his spot as the Democratic nominee until June, that was different because back then each political party was having its own respective battles before its base. The parameters of the race were different. There was no incumbent. Each side had a fair shot at the office.
But since last fall, all eyes – Independents, Democrats, undecideds, Republicans – have all been focused on the Republican candidates. For better or for worse, we’ve all been forced to realize how many different candidates may be the best thing for the country, but also the many different ways they’d be horrible at the job.
The extended season has given each candidate a chance to rise and fall from favor and to reveal every flaw. In the meantime, the president has been insulated from similar bruising as his potential opponent.
This highly contentious race is also a gold mine for the DNC. There is probably a separate wing over at its headquarters to house all the attack campaign ads that the candidates and their million dollar Super PACs have released this primary season. Free of charge, saving them hours of tape review.
It’s the type of scenario that empowers a Republican voter who has decided to hold his nose and vote for the presumptive favorite and winner, to quickly turn to another aspirant once he or she says something brilliant during a debate. It all resets the timeline. By the time he realizes he will ultimately have to vote for that not-so-perfect candidate in November, he is disenchanted even further and may opt to just sit out the race in its entirety. That is unless he just hates the president that much.
And what seem like a race to “out right” one another this slate of candidates is also doing a bang up job of energizing the Democratic base. See Democratic women’s response to 80% of what Rick Santorum has said about contraception and feminism; all statements which Black Democrats have interpreted as an attack on them and what Hispanic Democrats perceive as hostility towards them and the scape-goating of immigrants.
In this era of Twitter, bloggers and 24 hour news cycle, everyone who wouldn’t ordinarily care about the GOP candidates now has an opinion.
Unlike 2008, the discovered flaws of the candidates are not forgettable because they go to core principals and ideology, while being very memorable to independents – that most important voting bloc of all.
Last December, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus predicted that a lengthy primary season would prevent any candidate from “clinching” the nomination until Super Tuesday or the primary-heavy month of April.
At this rate, even that prediction is at risk of falling short.