But while it maybe isn't excellent news for her, Publius does eruditely point out that in many ways, we have Hillary Clinton's decision to prolong her primary campaign to thank for Specter's defection:
Today’s flip further vindicates Clinton’s decision to fight it out to the bitter end in last year’s primary. Looking back, nothing but positives came out of that contest. As I’ve explained before, the primary had an “anti-Tasmanian Devil” effect – rather than chaos, it left stronger party organization and big increases of registered voters in its wake.
And it’s that structural shift that doomed Specter. He couldn’t afford to lose hundreds of thousands of moderate PA Republicans.
This aspect of Specter's decision reconfirms one of the secrets of Obama’s electoral success. People point to the charisma and “hope and change” business. And that’s all fine. But we shouldn’t overlook Obama’s emphasis on nitty-gritty, massive organizing efforts (great article on those efforts here). Obama won with a lot of elbow grease and planning – it wasn’t because of speeches. The “old” politics of organization and registration made the “new” politics possible.
If Hillary hadn't stayed in the race, all those new registrations (and more importantly, registration switches from GOP to Dem) probably wouldn't have happened. If they hadn't have happened, Specter probably could have won a GOP primary, and would never have switched.
So, nice work, Hillary Clinton. You just got us a Senate seat. The Party thanks you.