GOP: not even the end of the beginning

It is easy to forget how much happened in the Democratic race of 2008

A data refresher for those who are following U.S. politics and feeling winded after all these Republican royal rumbles:

Republican debates held so far: 19

Democratic debates already held by this date in 2008: 20

Candidates still remaining in the Democratic race on this date: 3 (Barack Obama, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton)

Date of 26th and final Democratic debate in 2008: April 16

Date on which Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed Obama as the candidate: June 7

Yeah, so get comfortable. It is easy to forget how much happened, and how late, in the Democratic race of 2008. The swollen Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, was all but tied. Obama’s money advantage pulled him slightly ahead through February (remember Austan Goolsbee’s back-fence chat about how Obama’s threats against NAFTA shouldn’t be taken too seriously?). Clinton bounced back on “Mini-Super Tuesday”, March 4. The Jeremiah Wright controversy hit the Obama campaign on March 14, during a long stretch without primary events. Clinton won Pennsylvania April 26; much of May was consumed by a wrangle over pro-Clinton Florida and Michigan delegations that had been chosen in primaries held on unlawful dates; and Obama didn’t seal the deal mathematically until a rush of superdelegate endorsements arrived June 3.

There is a perception in this Republican contest that Mitt Romney has been a tad slow to wrap things up, but the Republicans weren’t done either by this point in 2008; John McCain only saw off Romney on Super Tuesday, and Mike Huckabee hung around until Mini-Super Tuesday in March. (Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign just kept going. In fact, it’s pretty much still going.) Only 11 states hold primary events on this year’s Super Tuesday, March 6, so this contest could easily have some life in it until June. It is much too early to be talking of a brokered convention, although people will keep talking about it because it’s what every political journalist hopes for. (They love nostalgia, spectacle, and expense accounts. A national convention without a preordained ending would be Elysium.)

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