With tomorrow’s Indiana primary looming, the writing may be on the wall for at least some of the candidates still in the race for the Democrats and Republicans. Depending upon which set of polls you believe, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will win the Hoosier State and, with it, a slew of delegates. Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders…ah, who cares? They both suck.
Whomever wins for the Republicans will have done something important. They will have made later contests matter.
One of the big complaints from states like California is that smaller states have a much larger impact on who the candidates are by the time they get to hold their party conventions. This year, though, that narrative has been thrown out the window. Later contests are actually having an impact on who the GOP’s nominee is.
And that, dear reader, is a good thing.
When we started out the campaign cycle, the Republicans had 16-17 candidates (depending on whether you counted the Pat Paulsen of the GOP this year, Jim Gilmore). By far, that has been the deepest field in my lifetime. Although they took up various points on the conservative spectrum, the GOP had the political buffet from which to savor.
Compare that to the 5 major candidates the Democrats had to suffer through…I mean pick from. Although the Democrats could fit all of their candidates on the same stage, they really didn’t deviate too much from the script: Republicans bad. Democrats good. (Read that in a Frankenstein’s Monster’s voice for the best effect.)
With such a wide array of candidates, Republicans had a lot of choices, and that, in turn, lead to a longer campaign than usual. Previous years saw a Republican candidate sew up the nomination by May or sooner. But this year, voters had an actual choice. They had to weigh options carefully, line up their own values with those of the candidates, and really think for a change instead of being forced to have warmed over dog crap sandwiches this late in the primary season.
Regardless of whether you’re on the Trump Train, want to Cruise with Cruz, or take up space with Kasich, there are two things we can take from this year’s primary season. One, the Republicans have done a masterful job in making later contests matter.
And, two, Bernie Sanders really needs to put away the Flowbee and get to a Great Clips.