For now, politics as usual

There are three more weeks until the Pennsylvania primary, and many are becoming weary of the consistently negative and personality centered campaigning. Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have both continued to focus on each other; and while we’ve heard plenty about readiness, experience, honesty and other character traits of both candidates, it has been a long time since there have been any substantial policy discussions. Clinton and Obama, even John McCain, could stand to shake up their campaign strategies a bit, to break up the tedium, and generate new excitement.

Obama’s campaign is starting to make shifts towards the general election, according to deputy campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand. To focusing on policy, campaigning in key election states, and mobilizing volunteers to register voters for the November election. Despite calls from key Democrats and DNC superdelegates for Clinton to drop out of the race (mostly from Obama supporters), Obama has repeatedly encouraged Clinton to continue her run.

One can imagine that the tough competition between the candidates has been garnering support and funds. Yet, if the public interest is faltering, it is likely that support and donations will follow, and the most logical course of action is to get the electorate excited about the general election campaign. If Obama can successfully shift his campaign, and the electorate’s interest, from personality to policy, and from Clinton to McCain, Clinton’s candidacy will be weakened, and her campaign much less effective.

McCain, who has been virtually invisible since clinching the Republican nomination on March 4th, is left in a precarious position. If Obama’s plan works, the McCain campaign could find itself left on the starting block, forcing McCain to play catch-up. If McCain starts campaigning against Obama too early, he risks strengthening Clinton’s candidacy, and waisting funds possibly defeating the wrong candidate. McCain’s situation is only exacerbated by the fact that he’s already behind in the polls and suffering from a divided support base. McCain’s campaign must come to action, and right soon, or risk being seen as unfocused and out of touch.

If Obama’s strategy works, I’d expect to see the McCain campaign focus in on the November election, with Obama as the opponent. We’ll then have a full blown election campaign, and Clinton will be left behind.