A hotly contested Democratic primary season that stretches to the wire — even to a brokered convention — could be either the best or the worst thing for the Democrats. It's the best thing if a bunch of plausible and photogenic candidates suck up all the media's time and attention bashing Bush; Bush's negatives are already rising fast, and they'll keep on going up as Democrats have the limelight and use it against him. Once a nominee is selected, the press attention will shift elsewhere for a while, and he'll bounce back.
Of course, a hotly contested Democratic primary season that stretches to the wire — even to a brokered convention — could also be a disaster if the candidates spend all the time beating up on each other. And while one can spin Iowa to say that non-negative explains Edwards, it could also be argued that negative is what stopped Dean cold…
Jonathan Cohn at TNR (which, despite its editorial wackiness, has done a good job reporting on the campaign) has an interesting theory about why Dean muffed Iowa: he spent so much time boasting about his organizational strength and “electability” that he forgot to remind voters about his stance on, well, the issues–particularly the issues other than the Iraq war. I think Dean is the most electable candidate, but I hope Dean and Trippi are giving Cohn’s theory some serious consideration.
Seth–Indeed, you’re right (well, Cohn is right, I guess).
I made a quick note about this (also using Suellentrop’s new article in Slate) on my site (click my name).