FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
You have to hand it to the Republicans… they're efficient.
With Mitt Romney out of the race, the Republicans have their man. John McCain will be the Republican candidate for president. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul remain in the race in name only, and I would be very surprised if they're around a week from now.
So while the Republican field is pretty much set, the Democrats don't have a clue.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are virtually tied with a long fight ahead. And even with Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania still out there, along with some smaller states, it's entirely possible the Democrats won't decide their nominee until their August convention.
One of the reasons the two parties find themselves in such different positions is this: in many states, Republicans use the winner-take-all system for delegates. The whole thing goes much faster that way. The Democrats, on the other hand, divide their delegates proportionally making it much harder for one candidate to get enough delegates to win.
This enables the Republicans to set about unifying the party, and plotting their strategy and message for November.
While they're doing that, Clinton and Obama fight on – spending millions of dollars trying to take each other out – money that could be used to fight John McCain in the fall instead of each other now.
Here’s my question to you: Now that the Republicans have a clear front-runner in John McCain, do they have an advantage over the Democrats in the general election?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Normally this "unification" would be an advantage, but in a year that's anything but typical, I think that conservatives will choke as the smell of McCain rises over the months. By contrast, the Democratic contest will be so curiously appealing that a fickle public will be temped to get involved.
Meg from West Virginia writes:
Jack, You really got this one wrong! The Republicans may have settled on a candidate, but they are a long way from being behind one person. And, since they have only one, the Republican "run for the nomination" is no longer news, so their coverage ends. The Democrats are a LONG way from fighting, and a good distance from any nomination. The latest poll shows that 70% of Democrats will be happy with either Hillary or Obama.
Deciding on a candidate early definitely gives the Republicans an advantage in the upcoming election. However, no matter how many advantages the Republicans might come up with, they will never be able to overcome their tremendous disadvantage. That would be George W. Bush. There's no way they can overcome the most disastrous presidency in modern history.
Unfortunately, the Republicans may have an edge now. McCain is not going to appeal to conservatives in the Republican Party, but then the entire mood of the electorate is swinging to the left. To win, the Republicans will need a centrist candidate, and McCain is probably the farthest from the right. If he tones down his views on Iraq and starts to talk about a draw-down or (dare we say) a timetable, then he could conceivably undermine the Democratic proto-candidates while they catfight each other.
The longer McCain is out there as the GOP candidate, the more people will tire of him. The more time he has, the more likely it is he will trip over himself. Obama and Clinton will command strong coverage for some time and will help draw attention to the issues that appeal to an overwhelming number of voters. McCain is out of touch and from another time and era.