Certainly Warren has not won the nomination yet. She will likely still have several weeks of debates left, but it seems unlikely that anybody left in the race will force a primary election. I would not be surprised if it turns out like the Connecticut convention in 2010 when Blumenthal’s only opponent was only allowed to speak in order to drop his opposition.
That said I also take to heart the concerns that many have about her being untested without a primary. I think they are valid concerns and, while I think Yvonne Abraham is wrong about the Occupy Wall Street quip, her broader point about primaries strengthening candidates is fair. Certainly we all know that Barack Obama was made a better candidate by 18 months of a primary battle as opposed to much, much less.
However, the real comparison people are making is between Coakley and Warren, even if they don’t say it. The fact is that the comparison is incomplete because this is not a special election. Kennedy died in August and the primary was in December. After she won the primary Coakley did not even run a campaign until it was too late. For comparison this would be like Warren announcing her campaign next May, killing the competition in the primary and then going on to the general. That is not happening and it will not happen.
Yes, Warren may have an easy primary, but the fact is the lack of the primary will also avoid the divisiveness between the liberal and moderate wings of the state party. Already the left loves Warren and the center of the party is likely to only be further drawn to her. But that is why we need not worry too much about Warren going without a real primary fight. The reason is that a long primary fight will be replaced by a long general fight. True, Coakley did not have a long primary fight, but she also did not have a long general fight. With more time she might have been able to retool (or at least not allow herself to fall into a false sense of security early on) and take down some of the dreck coming out of Brown HQ. Instead, resting on her laurels knowing the general was a short fight, she did nothing. Warren is unlikely to make that mistake even as she gets bashed by spurious connections to the odd radical sign that a camera catches at an Occupy Boston rally.
Let’s also not forget that she has been mercilessly pummeled by Republicans in Washington before. Maybe not in ad wars, but the point is she did not allow that painting to give her opponents cause to kill the CFPB.
I agree that a primary and at least a few more debates will do her good, make her sharper for her debates with Brown. However, I do not worry that she will be automatically weaker because she faces no strong challenge in the general. The strongman she needs to take down is in the general anyway.