The Corner

Battle of the Front-Runners

The feel-good dynamic of the Democratic debate was very interesting. It suggests both Clinton and Obama think they’re ahead in the nomination fight. Each behaved the way a front-runner does: very cautious not to get drawn into combat. Both McCain and Romney, by contrast, behaved like underdogs on Wednesday.

I suspect the front-runner strategy will help Clinton more than Obama, since it seems like she actually is ahead, and since she usually comes out looking worse when things get nasty. The dual-underdog debate, meanwhile, marginally helped Romney, since he actually is behind, and since McCain doesn’t look good being nasty. I say marginally helped, but surely not enough.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

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