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Do Primaries Matter Come November?

Jon Chait made this point yesterday, but it bears repeating--especially since it now seems to have taken another big step toward becoming conventional wisdom c/o this NYT front page article:

[T]he Pennsylvania exit polls, conducted by Edison/Mitofsky for five television networks and The Associated Press, underscore a point that political analysts made on Wednesday: that state primary results do not necessarily translate into general election victories.

“I think it differs state to state, and I think either Democrat will have a good chance of appealing to many Democrats who didn’t vote for them the first time,” said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster not affiliated with either campaign. “Take Michigan. It has a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, and many Democratic congressmen, so it’s probably going to be a pretty good state for the Democrats in a recession year.” [Emphasis added.]

Kudos to the Clinton campaign for somehow implanting the idea that her victories in Ohio and Pennsylvania mean she'd be the stronger candidate in those states come November. But it's just not the case. If it were, we'd be talking about Obama putting states like Mississippi and Alabama in play in the general election.

--Jason Zengerle