"There is no education like adversity."
- Benjamin Disraeli
After every primary, there are the inevitable cries for the laggard of the day to quit. Since Super Tuesday, there have been calls for Newt Gingrich to suspend his campaign, and while Rick Santorum is on record saying, "People should stay in the race as long as they feel they should stay in the race,” his supporters have been ardently vocal in their belief that if Gingrich would withdraw, there would be a better chance at a more conservative Republican winning the nomination.
Santorum has been on the receiving end of such demands for months now. He’s got enough sense and integrity not to become a hypocrite on the matter, and more to the point, he knows the pressure is already on Gingrich, who desperately needs to win Alabama and Mississippi to remain statistically viable. Santorum victories in the south will assure a two-man race going forward.
Many pundits maintain that a lengthy and contentious primary is bad for the eventual nominee, in that it will leave the candidate battered and depleted, and leave the party faithful bitter and disenfranchised. But recent history tells us this is merely the false hope of Democrats desperate to see Obama remain in office; in fact, the 2008 Democratic primary was just as hard-fought.
The fact is, the Republican primary season has given all of the candidates valuable experience. Over the course of twenty heated debates, intense campaigns in over two dozen states, and countless interviews with hostile media, the eventual nominee will emerge well-seasoned and battle-hardened for the general election. There will be little left for Obama to strike him with that he hasn’t already learned to defend.
The GOP nominee will have enjoyed months of media scrutiny and publicity, making him familiar with voters and primed to make his case for the White House.
Most importantly, the incumbent is extremely vulnerable. Barack Obama faces the unprecedented statistical challenge of a re-election bid following a yearly average approval rating of 44.5% and well over 8% unemployment – no President has won re-election with approval ratings that low and unemployment so high. In fact, only Reagan won re-election with unemployment over 7% – at 7.2%, but that was after bringing unemployment down from 10.8%.
Couple these historically bad numbers with historically high gas prices and an anemic economy, and you have all the makings of a one-term President. It really doesn’t matter how long it takes the Republicans to settle on a nominee, and the combative primary will only serve to produce a strong and well-known candidate, one that should be equipped to unseat the man who, by the numbers, is the worst American President since Herbert Hoover.
So sit back, enjoy the fight, and stop begging for someone to quit. It’s better to win on the field than by forfeit.