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FRONT LOADING....Walter Shapiro argues that the Democratic Party has no one but itself to blame for its current primary from hell:
After a week punctuated by Obama's right-stuff response to wrong-way Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Clinton's document dump of today-tea-was-served White House schedules, Democrats are being barraged with new information about the candidates long after most of them have made a binding decision on a nominee. It is akin to being given a subscription to Consumer Reports the day after you bought a new car.

....With more than five months to the Denver Convention, the problem for the Democrats remains the crazy-quilt schedule that caused far too many to vote too soon. That is the real buyer's remorse — a front-loaded political calendar that has turned most partisan Democrats into now-irrelevant bystanders just when a real decision is needed.
Sure, sure. And if Hillary Clinton had won Iowa and then swept to victory the way John Kerry did in 2004, we'd all be singing the praises of the front-loaded calendar. But that's not the decisive factor. If you want to know why this primary campaign really keeps going and going and going, all you have to do is look at this remarkable chart. It's two months worth of Gallup daily tracking polls that I stitched together:



I don't think people really appreciate the uniqueness of what's going on here: there are two Democratic candidates who are almost precisely tied. They've won nearly equal numbers of delegates; they've won nearly equal portions of the popular vote; and for two nearly two months straight they've polled within three or four points of each other. Two months! All this new information, all the spitballs, all the ads, all the spin, and both candidates have held on to almost precisely the same level of support they had right after Super Tuesday. That's remarkable.

There's no need to make this more complicated than it is. The Democratic Party has two candidates with almost eerily similar levels of support, and that support is deep and strong for both candidates. That's a recipe for a long campaign season no matter what the primary schedule looks like.

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