I predict that later today, Barack Obama will garner the most votes in the Democratic primary of a small New England state with fairly unrepresentative demographics.
Merely by winning fewer than half the total votes cast by members of his own party (plus whatever independents he attracts), much of the major media will nonetheless behave as if he has already secured his party's nomination. Many will start asking, quite openly, why other candidates who earned "only" 20 to 30% of the vote don't simply drop out of the campaign -- perhaps before they permanently damage the anointed frontrunner.
Bottom line: It is only January 8 and over 95% of the states still need to vote, but media narratives are already starting to run with the "race is over" storyline.
Regardless of money (Hillary Clinton) or message (John Edwards, at least as judged in the left blogosphere), Obama's competitors are finding it increasingly difficult to gain the traction necessary to put a dent in the apparent Obama steamroller. While that result is predictable, this kind of bandwagoning undermines the meaning of the rest of the primary season and turns the race for the presidency into a short-term PR contest instead of a matter for democratic decision-making.
I'm not particularly anti-Obama, but I do think that it is silly that these earliest caucuses and primaries garner so much attention. The media (including the blogosphere) should not compound the error by creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.
I urge members of the blogosphere and media to go ahead, research and write posts and stories about substantive issues -- and the differences (or similarities) between various candidates. Yes, many of those stories were written in 2007 already, but few American voters were paying attention.
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