While there is no doubt the Democratic primary has benefited Republicans, Frank Rich's NYT column today points out that McCain still has serious hurdles to overcome, as well:
... while it was superfluous in determining that party’s nominee, 220,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (out of their total turnout of 807,000) were moved to cast ballots for Mike Huckabee or, more numerously, Ron Paul. That’s more voters than the margin (215,000) that separated Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama.Though Rich does not mention him, former Congressman Bob Barr could further complicate matters, as well, if he runs as the Libertarian candidate. A Barr candidacy would potentially give Republicans defectors, who can't fathom voting for Obama or Hillary, a more palatable alternative for casting a protest vote.
Those antiwar Paul voters are all potential defectors to the Democrats in November. Mr. Huckabee’s religious conservatives, who rejected Mr. McCain throughout the primary season, might also bolt or stay home. Given that the Democratic ticket beat Bush-Cheney in Pennsylvania by 205,000 votes in 2000 and 144,000 votes in 2004, these are 220,000 voters the G.O.P. can ill-afford to lose.
Surely, some of this is wishful-thinking on Rich's part. But it's also good for conservatives to remember that we still have a lot of work to do ...