Extension of Race May Be Good For Obama

Nearly two weeks ago I asserted that Hillary should get out of the race if she failed to win a majority of delegates in the voting in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island this Tuesday March 4. For about a week now her campaign officials, fearing the worst, have been priming the press-pump with the idea that she might continue her campaign even if Texas and Ohio don’t fall her way. Today, that rhetoric is finally coming from Clinton herself, rather than her campaign officials.

The more I think about this, the more I think it might actually be good for Obama if Hillary stays in. Consider the following:

  • The spotlight would stay on the Democratic race

Every story that includes the word “Obama” increases national familiarity with him. Typically, increased familiarity has been good for Obama. And in a national election, if the name itself is more familiar the electorate will be more inclined to vote for him (or maybe more accurately, less inclined to not vote for him). If there’s anything we’ve learned from the current administration it’s that simply repeating something frequently enough can dramatically legitimize it.

  • If Hillary stays in, Obama can keep winning

The more he wins, the more he looks like “the” winner. By the time November comes around, America will be very used to seeing Obama win and election.

My instinct is to qualify all this by predicating it all on the fact that Hillary doesn’t destroy Obama with negativity, however:

  • Negative tactics by Clinton in the primary election, if they don’t kill Obama, make him stronger

In effect, Hillary’s negative campaign against Obama is stealing the GOP’s thunder. For the presidential election, all the lowest-hanging fruit of Obama vulnerabilities will have been used-up. By the time the McCain team gets to trot them out, they’ll be shopworn, diluted, weakened. And lets face it, creative as they are, there’s probably nothing a negative Clinton campaign can invent that the GOP wouldn’t eventually have thought of themselves.

So Hillary’s refusal to give up, especially if she keeps losing, could be good for Obama in the long run.


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