In late 2006, Mark Warner and Evan Bayh, two red state Democrats, suprised the political world by announcing they would not run for president. Warner was a popular governor from Virginia who had a successful business career before entering politics. Bayh, at a young age, had served two terms as governor of Indiana and was in his second term in the U.S. Senate. While both candidates would be quite electable in the general election, they were scared off because they were too centrist.
Ever since I’ve been covering the Democratic race, all the way back in Iowa, I would speak to Democratic voters who were convinced that any Democratic nominee would be a lock to win the White House. The problem was, with all their overconfidence, they decided to get greedy. Rather than settle for a moderate, boring white guy, they decided that they would pick the most liberal candidate possible, and they got caught up in the drama of choosing between the first viable woman candidate and the first viable black candidate.
Republicans, on the other hand, however begrudgingly, ended up holding their noses and going with John McCain, the only electable candidate in their party once Rudy Giuliani’s post-9/11 popularity vanished.
Don’t get me wrong, the fundamentals are so strong for Democrats this year that Obama still may pull it off in November, and still should even be considered the favorite. But Democrats will be sweating it all year. Does anybody doubt that if Democrats had acted like Republicans, that Bayh or Warner would be coasting to victory right now?