Column: Extended Primary Proves Obamas Electability

This story was written by M. Austin Margolis,

After Tuesday nights primary results, Barack Obama has all but wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination. That said, there are several reflections to make on the Democratic primary overall that were, at least to me, unexpected.

Foremost, it seems that the extended primary process did actually make Obama a stronger nominee. Specifically, the storm Obama weathered over comments made by his former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the backlash that followed has proven that he can survive a real controversy and still remain a strong contender.

In both North Carolina and Indiana, almost half of voting Democrats said the Wright issue was important in their vote. That said, this number did not give Clinton any significant edge over Obama in Indiana. Also, despite this statistic Obama was still able to pull out a double-digit win over Clinton in North Carolina.

Furthermore, the elongated primary process helped Obama prove to voters that not only could he survive a controversy, but also that he could handle it well.

In March, Obama gave his A More Perfect Union speech in Pennsylvania to address the issue of race in America, and some hailed the speech as one of the best in recent times. Then, in late April when Wright made more controversial remarks at the National Press Club, Obama came out in full force, saying he was outraged by Wrights recent comments.

Thus Obama, for perhaps the first time in his public service career, faced a controversy and he did so in a way that not only was satisfactory to a majority of the Democratic electorate, but also proved he had the political skills to survive such a controversy.

What is the point of all this? Well, it is entirely possible that had Clinton not stayed in the race Obama would not have been able to survive the controversy. Picture this: Had Clinton dropped out and Obama became the nominee in February, the controversy would not have erupted when it did. Rather, it is likely the comments would have been uncovered and used by Republicans against Obama in the general election.

Instead of that happening, Obama has already dealt with the issue, and there is really little else that can come out of it that has not been said. To be sure, that is not to say the Clinton campaign was responsible for the Wright controversy, but it certainly seemed to be an issue that could have ruined the Obama campaign had he dealt with it in a different way.

Also, it must be noted that this campaign was so intense because of the caliber of candidates involved. As much as I have an affiliation for one candidate over the other, both candidates were extremely strong candidates that could have done well in the general election.

Indeed, Clinton is a strong and resilient candidate who showed her strength through the fight she put up during the entire primary season. To be sure, if it were not for Obama, Clinton would most likely have been the nominee hands down and would have been a good nominee at that.

Furthermore, Obama supporters should not simply ignore the proposals and plans that Clinton discussed in her campaign since there was a reason she was able to get such a large block of the Democratic electorate in the first place.

Finally, people should not forget the importance of this election overall. For the first time in American history, America has turned its attention toward an election between an African American man and a woman.

Even if Obama does not end up winning te presidency in November, Americans have certainly taken a step forward in their politics, and now the idea of a minority or female candidate at the top of the ticket will no longer seem like such a long shot.

For the last several months, some including myself have said the long primary would hurt the Democratic Party come November. However, in hindsight it seems that rather than doing any harm to the party it has simply turned Obama into a national candidate and helped the Democratic Party come up with the vision it will need to go head-to-head with as formidable and respectable a candidate as John McCain.