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One Reason Not To Mind A (moderately) Long Primary

Since plenty of Dems have been feeling apocalyptic lately, Dan Balz tries to find a silver lining in the long primary—lots and lots of people are signing up to be Democrats (and most of them, presumably, aren't just Rush Limbaugh fans voting strategically). In Pennsylvania, the party's added 161,000 new voters, while Republican registration has dipped slightly. John Kerry, to put this in context, only won the state by 144,000 votes. Same thing's happening around the country:

Some examples: In Wisconsin's 8th District, where Democrat Steve Kagen won a tight race in 2006 in what had been a GOP district, 127,000 Democrats turned out for the Feb. 19 primary, compared with 56,000 Republicans. In Ohio's 1st District, represented by Republican Steve Chabot, 47,000 Republicans turned out on March 4, compared with 107,000 Democrats. That last figure represents more voters than Chabot or his rival attracted in the 2006 general election, and 9,000 fewer votes than the Democratic candidate in that district captured in the 2004 general election. …

But the Democratic race may be producing an even more valuable asset for the fall, particularly when compared with Republican John McCain's campaign. By the time this race is over, Clinton and Obama will have competed in almost every state (Michigan and Florida being two potentially costly exceptions). The Democratic candidates have been forced to organize these states in the winter and spring. They have identified and trained legions of organizers. They will know which of their state coordinators are the best, and many of those staffers will already be familiar with some battleground states for the fall.

That doesn't, obviously, mean the general election's in the bag, but it's nice to know that there are a few upsides to having the primary season drag out this long.

P.S. On the other hand, there's a new Gallup poll out today suggesting that 28 percent of Clinton supporters would vote for McCain over Obama in the general, while 19 percent of Obama supporters would defect. I'd imagine most of these Democrats will come back no matter who the nominee is, but it's still a real issue.

--Bradford Plumer