Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Three's a crowd

With any big change in the relative delegate count unlikely, Tuesday’s primaries—especially those in Texas and Ohio—will be of little mathematical significance. Their impact on the race as a whole, however, is another story. Former rival Bill Richardson openly contends that the candidate who wakes up on Wednesday with the fewest delegates should step down. And, if Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton truly wish to serve their party’s best interests, Richardson’s political anxieties will soon be extinguished, along with one candidate’s presidential aspirations.

Though Mike Huckabee may no longer be a good example of it, a split in the nomination race can prove devastating to its party. Democrats have lost the last three elections in which the race remained heated for a significant period of time. Republicans, too, have seen their party harmed by such discrepancies. What has recently been dubbed the “Nader effect,” splitting the vote does more than divide popularity among candidates of the same party; it often prompts independent voters to abandon those candidates entirely. Unsurprisingly, infighting begins to look more like sibling rivalry when the convention rolls around, and nobody wants to see that kind of petty bickering make its way into the White House.

If the aforementioned candidates would rather see power handed to their Democratic rivals than their Republican ones, they would do well to heed Richardson’s careful advice. Because, while both Clinton and Obama may be quite qualified to act as commander in chief, their constant squabbles will only ensure that neither gets the chance to prove it.

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