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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

The National Review’s John Hood:

With the supercharged 24-hour news cycle, the burgeoning blogosphere, and the legions of journalists furiously scribbling as much as they can before craigslist.com kills off their employers, it’s seems like the 2008 presidential contest has already been analyzed from every possible angle, by everyone with an angle. In fact, it feels as though we’ve already had several national elections since last summer. And yet we’ve only just begun the general-election campaign Tuesday night with Barack Obama weakly clinching the Democratic nomination while losing one of the final two primaries and John McCain blandly promising a respectful contest with his fresh-faced Senate colleague.

We’re stuck with these two mediocrities for the rest of the year. What’s more, we’re also going to be subjected to hundreds of mainstream-media mediocrities endlessly recycling the same trite observations, then revising the observations, then rediscovering the original observations, ad nauseatium.

It’s easy to grow tired of the sheer volume of political coverage. This will wind up being the longest presidential campaign in the history of the Republic, dominating the news cycle for 15 months essentially unabated. Barack Obama and John McCain have taken their share of hits, and shown their share of warts, and will continue to do so.

Candidates never look good at this stage of the political cycle, any more than football players do after playing a game in the mud. But I tend to think that these are two of the objectively stronger candidates that have been nominated in some time, creating perhaps the best matchup since the Kennedy-Nixon race of 1960. Barack Obama and John McCain each have classic and proud American biographies. Obama is probably the best political athlete since Bill Clinton; John McCain has a brand so strong that even Democrats feel obligated to compliment him. How many Republicans would rather have George W. Bush running again? How many Democrats would rather have John Kerry than Obama?

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