Apparently Erick Erickson of Red State thinks the DNC's new "Mitt vs Mitt" ad is designed to (a) sow doubts about Mitt Romney among conservative Republicans, and (b) "potentially drag out the pain of the Republican Primary before doing what every Democrat and Beltway Pundit in America thinks — settling for Romney, a guy they will have already defined as a flip-flopper."
Certainly (a) is the main point the DNC is trying to drive home, but if Democrats think that extending the primary schedule is good for them, I present the 2008 Democratic primaries as evidence for the opposition. Those primaries granted Democrats largely positive media coverage in places the otherwise never would have shown their faces: North Dakota, Indiana, North Carolina, etc. By the end of a 50-state primary season, Republicans and independents would be familiar with the arguments for and against each candidate; 11th Commandment concerns and ambitions for VP or cabinet posts would probably prevent all but the most oblique attacks in the back half of the campaign, which would otherwise go mostly uncovered.
The ideal outcome here for Democrats is probably for the anointed NotRomney to enjoy a brief, Pat Buchanan in 1996-esque moment in the sunshine, winning a couple of early primaries and then a handful of smaller states on Super Tuesday. I suppose it's possible that Gingrich could engage in some sort of Ted Kennedy-in-1980-esque "Well, things worked out a little
different from the way I thought" campaign to the bitter end, but it's not 1980 and Gingrich is savvy enough not to do that.
There's a danger in overthinking this, which is what the Democrats always do when it comes to attacking the opposition. (Negative too early! Negative too late! Too negative! Maybe we shouldn't be negative at all!) If the Democratic leadership decides that they want to use Mitt Romney as a punching bag, and they punch hard, then you can count me as a satisfied customer.
indeed! I don't think they're thinking much about second-order effects. I think the main thing they want to do is do just what you describe. Erickson is sort of giving them too much credit :).
I don't know if a long primary for the dems is the same thing as a long primary for the republicans. The republicans have to run to a really crazy place during the primary season to shore up their tea party contingent. The democrats got to sit on TV for a long time looking smart, which was good for them. The Republicans have to sit on TV for a long time saying inane things that are obviously false. I'm not positive that translates to a good way to win an election.
I'm quite proud of my 2008 Democratic primary, so I like Andy's point. It'd be interesting if some kind of polling could evaluate the way that swing voters responded to the 2012 GOP primary versus the 2008 Democratic primary.
Well, there's always the possibility that the primary shows us that the median Republican voter is not a frothing-at-the-mouth Tea Partier, and the GOP benefits by virtue of the soft bigotry of low expectations.
In general, I sort of assume that even in a presidential election, there's almost no such thing as bad publicity.
A new Pew study finds people in Tea Party congressional districts becoming sharply less enamored of the Tea Party in recent months. I'd argue that unlike the Democrats in 2008, who had a strong field, the field of cruel jokes that want the Republican nomination has been bad for the R brand. And what the D's are doing here is trying to prolong that unsavory experience and shorten the amount of time Romney has uncontested as the nominee in which to start sounding presidential again instead of pandering to the lunatics.
And this guy is the frontrunner? Really? This is the best the GOP can come up with? This guy changes positions faster than he changes underwear. The GOP does not have a candidate that can beat Obama. Period.
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