We all know that part of the decision behind the Tom Davis retirement is the selection of a convention over a primary to decide the Va GOP senate nominee for 2008. But this was all well and good for many, who took great pains to talk about the benefit of conventions over primaries.
This is a point with which I disagree. My experience is that the name ID generated by a primary and building of general election networks outweighs the campaign costs of a primary and also does not generate the intra-party anger that comes with a contested convention fight.
Today, I was reminded of another benefit. Peter Beinart writes in today’s WaPo about the Democratic nominating fight, and what damage might be brought to each candidate. He notes:
But when there’s no incumbent, a tough primary challenge doesn’t tell you anything about a candidate’s chances in November. Yes, nasty contests can leave the losers’ supporters embittered and less likely to turn out in the general election. (They can also expose vulnerabilities that are later exploited by the other side.) But heated primary battles also mobilize voters, some of whom stay mobilized even if their party nominates someone else. Many of the people who got involved in Democratic politics because of Howard Dean in 2004, for instance, worked to elect John Kerry in the fall.
I added the underline…
A pity the GOP will not have the benefit of a primary to mobilize voters for the fall election…which we would have enjoyed had a different road been chosen by the State Central Committee.