If Democrats Were Republicans …

In an interview with Nightline yesterday, Clinton said, “If we had the Republican rules, I would already be the nominee.”

This line—she and Bill have said it a few times now—has led to some marvelous takedowns, from Jon Stewart to the New Republic ’s Christopher Orr . But here are some other things that would be true if Democratic primary had the Republican-style winner-take-all system:

  • Barack Obama would have focused his energies on winning big states by a hair instead of racking up huge delegate leads in small caucus states.
  • Momentum would be a bigger factor, since every win is a big win, making an 11-victory streak more devastating, PR-wise.
  • John Edwards might have dropped out even earlier, freeing up voters in the Nevada and Michigan contests.
  • Both candidates would have been free to campaign in Michigan and Florida. Clinton would probably have won Florida, but Michigan would be up in the air. Only half their delegates would count.

In other words, it would be a completely different contest.

And as Chris Wilson pointed out , if the Republicans used the Democratic system, Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee—or at least still in the race.