Two Upsets in One Week!
Two weeks ago, Hillary Clinton was the “inevitable” nominee of the Democratic Party.
Then last Thursday Barack Obama overturned all the expectations and won a smashing victory in the Iowa caucus.
Then for three days Obama was the “inevitable” nominee (with polls giving him as much as a 15-point lead in New Hampshire) and Clinton was finished.
Then tonight she proved all the pollsters wrong and won a smashing victory of her own.
This is great. I know that partisans in every campaign are probably disappointed that the race hasn’t been sewed up by their candidate. But it’s terribly unhealthy to have candidates anointed after only Iowa and New Hampshire have voted. Even beyond the fact that those two states are small and not particularly representative of the electorate at large, having one candidate take the whole prize this early just results in candidates who are insufficiently ready for the general election.
The perfect example is 2004, when John Kerry convinced Iowa and New Hampshire voters to take a flyer on him because he was the most “electable” candidate (whatever that means). He then spent the rest of the primary season doing easy victory laps. The result? How Kerry would stand up in a tough fight on a national stage was never really tested — and we only found out too late that he wasn’t up to the challenge.
So here’s hoping that Clinton and Obama (and John Edwards, too) slug this one out for a while longer. They’ll all be better candidates for having made the effort — and the eventual nominee will be steeled for the test they will face come November.