The long primary season advantage for the GOP

“Tom, I’m going to vote for you tomorrow even though you didn’t ask me to.”

I was shocked. “Why, Mrs. O’Brian.” I said, “I’ve lived across from you for eighteen years. I cut your grass in the summer. I shovel your walk in the winter. I didn’t think I had to ask for your vote.”

“Tom.” she replied, “let me tell you something: people like to be asked.”

Tip O’Neill Man of the House page 26

There is an aspect of the GOP presidential race that favors Republicans that nobody talks about, it’s a basic fact of human nature.

Right now the GOP primary race has visited 30 states (not counting territories) there are another 20 to go (with a few repeat caucuses such as Missouri).

There are few states that candidates have totally skipped. I don’t think anyone visited Alaska, Rick Santorum sent his daughter into Hawaii and other than Ron Paul I don’t believe any candidate hit Maine or Vermont but there are very few states where at least one of the GOP candidates has not visited. Many key battleground states like Ohio and Florida have had multiple visits by multiple candidates.

There is a lot of talk about how this campaign has weakened the GOP, how it has drained money and resources that might have otherwise been spent making the national case against Obama. I suggest that the result is exactly the opposite.

Each of these campaigns have been of course making the case against each other, but in ever state, with every worker knocking on doors and holding signs and talking to people they are also making the case against Obama, and more importantly pressing the flesh with the people who will be voting.

People might be lazy about voting in a primary but given the chance to see or question a presidential candidate people tend to show up, particularly in states that normally don’t have a race or a visit during the election season.

Those people will remember both the visit and the personal requests for their vote and when November comes around that personal contact, with supporters in general and the candidate in particular will make a difference. It means something when you can say: “I met Rick Santorum” or “Mitt Romney answered my question.” or “Newt Gingrich was at the diner while I was there.” In NH or Iowa that might not be a big deal, but in other states not used to tripping over presidential candidates at every turn, it’s a moment to remember.

It sounds like a small thing, to those who live in places like NY or DC it seems little, but Tip O’Neill if he was alive would tell you, it won’t be so little in November.