On Meet the Press this weekend, some Republican strategists were discussing the ongoing race for the Democratic nominee and how they feel the Republicans are benefiting. From the transcript:
MR. MURPHY: From the Republican point of view, the wonderful delicious thing here is, if this happens, you know, and if Martians land to help her do it, if it happens, we'll be sitting over in Republican headquarters drunk and high-fiving each other, watching the Democratic establishment try to put the Barack Obama phenomenon back in the bottle and tell all those people, "Yes we can, no we can't." Not going to happen. Sorry. You know, we had delegate maps in the Texas...
MR. RUSSERT: But Mary Matalin is laughing during this entire discussion.
MR. SHRUM: Oh, she's promoting this, actually.
MS. MATALIN: This is why we call them the Democratic Party. There's nothing democratic about their process. On the other hand, it's so kumbaya it can't pick a nominee. It's not that they won't we unified, but the--because they like both their candidates. But the longer they go in this contest, the more left they get, get pushed. They get--we need to talk about NAFTA, because they're going...
MR. RUSSERT: We're going to get there.
MS. MATALIN: ...over the edge on NAFTA. And the longer there's...(unintelligible)...the lefter they go, and we're high-fiving already on that.
MR. MURPHY: Yeah, that will be great.
It seems like Nader is unnecessary after all. All we need is a closer race for the nominee on the Democratic side and it pushes the party (rhetoric) to the left. It was my impression that Ms. Matalin was not only happy about the leftward move, but also other aspects of the campaign which will benefit McCain against the eventual nominee. If Obama wins, pundits are opining that McCain's best attack is going to be a variation of what Senator Clinton is already doing. In other words, the old "big, bad, evil liberal" attacks aren't going to work as they have in the past.
So McCain will only need to sit back and take notes.
One correction to the transcript; Ms. Matalin said not what is shown above but: This is why we call them the Democrat Party. There's nothing democratic about their process. Emphasis mine.
We can argue about the process the Democrats are using, but I think we are getting a preview of how the two candidates can run effective campaigns. A national campaign is no small feat, so this speaks volumes about the ability to make good decisions, strategize, find the best people to work with you, manage finances, and motivate voters.
But Mr. Murphy pointed out earlier that this close race would likely not happen on the Republican side because of their winner-take-all system. It produces more of an appearance of a mandate, which is good for party unity. George Will (on ABC's This Week) made a similar point about the electoral vote system in the general election. Party unity is of no small importance in the run-up to a national election. But we have access to the popular vote count as well these days, which can torpedo the appearance of a landslide victory. Or, in fact, cast that victory into doubt, as it did in 2000 in the minds of many voters.