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After a decidedly inconclusive Super Tuesday, pundits and bloggers are debating which Democratic candidate will benefit from the extended race, as well as whether the lengthy primary could hurt the eventual nominee in the general election.To answer the former, I think Obama is the clear beneficiary of a longer primary fight. As Hayes points out, the more voters see of Obama, the more they like him. I think that boils down to a mix of his organization on the ground, which Mark Schmitt rightfully praises in this TAP piece, and his rhetorical skill, which is unmatched in this field. These are things that aren’t going away in the next few months, and combined with his enormous January fundraising totals, he has lots of room to grow.The second question gets more dicey, but I’m with Brad Plumer on this.
One could, alternatively, imagine that the absence of a clear Democratic opponent would make it much harder for McCain to start attacking (back in 2004, the GOP was able to coalesce around the Kerry flip-flopping meme early on, which gave it time to sink in). Meanwhile, it seems that as long as the Democratic nomination is up in the air, dissatisfied conservatives are more likely to spend time airing their grievances with McCain than training their fire on his opponent.The more Rush bangs at McCain, and the closer we get to fording the two Dems to clarify their specifics on issues like withdrawal, the better we will be.One last thing: Some Obama fans seem nervous about the chance the race will come down to Texas and Ohio, meaning if the Illinois senator can’t pick off a majority of delegates in at least one of those states, he’s toast. Texas seems particularly daunting, given it’s high Latino population. But fear not, for as Ed Kilgore notes, the Texas delegation procedure is damn complex. Let P equal a given district's percentage of the statewide Democratic vote in the last gubernatorial election, and let V equal that district's percentage of the total statewide vote for the Democratic nominee in the last presidential election (district vote/state vote). ( P + V) divided by 2 = that district's percentage of the total number of Delegates to be elected by the senatorial districts, as opposed to the number to be elected at-large.. It seems like organization is necessary to triumph in this strange hybrid system, something Obama may just be able to pull off.