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Everyone In Politics Still Really, Really Hates The Long Primary Season, Like Always

First Posted: 03/08/2012 2:49 pm Updated: 03/08/2012 2:56 pm

Remember that time the RNC set up a primary process that was "heavily back-loaded" and had "major states such as California and New York going much later in the process than in 2008" which meant that there would be "far fewer delegates up for grabs through Super Tuesday" and thus would ensure that this year's primary season would be "the most spread-out contest since the 1970s?"

Yeah, everyone still hates it, like grim death. And this is your daily reminder!

The Associated Press reports today that "GOP activists" are still really, really upset that their party's primary process is wending on in the precise way it was designed to do. And every day that Mitt Romney fails to secure the nomination is a reminder that they hate this, though it's never been clear what Mitt Romney is supposed to have been able to do about it, beyond "not sucking so much as a frontrunner," I guess.

According to the report:

Republican activists foresee a long, lumbering presidential campaign that almost certainly will nominate Mitt Romney but may leave him weakened in a fall battle against President Barack Obama.

Interviews Wednesday with GOP officials and strategists in several states found no panic or calls for Romney to crank up his criticisms of Rick Santorum to secure the nomination. But they expressed varying degrees of worry that Santorum’s and Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Romney are inflicting wounds that might not fully heal by Nov. 6.

Steve Lombardo, "a veteran of many GOP campaigns," says he's concerned that Romney has "built up" a mess of "negatives" on his "approval rating" that will be "[hard] to reverse." Another GOP strategist, John Ullyot, says that the primary season's length "just weakens Romney in the general election." A third figure mentioned in the piece, South Carolina State GOP Chair Chad Connelly, argues the contrary, asserting that a "longer, drawn-out primary engages people across the nation."

Odds are that Chad Connelly is right. Over at the Plum Line, Jonathan Bernstein warned that the post-Super Tuesday analysis would likely contain several dubious ideas that needed to be debunked in advance, and one of those was this:

Ignore statements about the fall based on Romney's weak national polling numbers. Romney has lousy numbers because he's lost several contests and because he's being attacked from his own party. Once he's the nominee, he'll have several months in which he's a winner — and those attacks will disappear. It's highly likely that his favorable ratings in polls will consequently recover.

Exactly. The one thing that you can say about GOP activists is that their occasional need for a "not-Romney" candidate is trumped about a billion times over by their desire for a "not-Obama" president. Consequently, Romney is not going to necessarily emerge from the primary season as the damaged brand, in the eyes of Republicans at least, that they fret about. (We'll see what happens with independent voters, just like we always will.)

But these concerns of GOP activists help me to segue to the Obama team, who also have found things to dislike about the long-drawn out primary process. As Reuters' Jeff Mason reports, the length of the contest "may be helping President Barack Obama with independent voters, but it is complicating his efforts to motivate Democratic donors to give to his campaign."

While that race drags on, Obama's campaign is focused on organizing in battleground states and raising money. It has amassed $106.3 million by the end of January, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Still, that is a far cry from the roughly $750 million the campaign had in 2008, and Obama's advisers are worried about hundreds of millions of dollars being raised by outside groups supporting Republicans.

Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager, sent an email to supporters in January, admonishing them not to be complacent about giving funds.

"Too many Obama supporters genuinely believe that this campaign doesn't really need their donations, or doesn't need them yet, in order to compete and win," he wrote, putting the sentence in boldface in the email.

"That's wrong."

You know what? Here's a useful way of looking at all the agonizing over the GOP's primaries. Republicans are really worried that at the end of June, the primary process will fail to yield a candidate that's better than Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Democrats are really worried that at the end of June, the primary process will fail to yield a candidate that's worse.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]

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