[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.blitzeriowa.cnn.jpg caption="Blitzer: If Obama is the nominee, his primary battle has made him a tougher fall candidate"] NEW YORK (CNN) - There is no doubt that Barack Obama is a better campaigner today than he was when he started this run for the White House nearly a year and a half ago.
All of these contests around the country have really honed his political skills. During the four Democratic presidential debates that I moderated over the past year, he clearly improved his technique. The extraordinary length of this campaign has made him a stronger candidate – one better poised to compete against John McCain, assuming Obama winds up winning the Democratic nomination.
The large number of contests has also strengthened his campaign organization around the country. With the exception of Michigan and Florida, where he didn’t campaign because those states were penalized by the Democratic National Committee for moving up their primaries to January, Obama now has a good base of support in virtually every state. This will be incredibly useful in a general election contest against McCain. The base of supporters across the country can potentially be decisive in getting out the vote on November 4.
He has also established a truly impressive network of fundraisers. The millions of people who have contributed to his campaign, especially on the web, will be tapped for funds down the road, and that will sure be a strong advantage for him. His staff has learned a lot over the past many months. They are better today as a result.
Still, there certainly is a downside to this lengthy battle against Hillary Clinton. Many of his political flaws have been widely publicized and could come back to haunt him. The McCain campaign and other Republicans have certainly learned of his vulnerabilities, which were on display in key general election battleground states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and now West Virginia. All of the exiting polling results from around the country are being carefully studied by McCain and his supporters as they gear up for a potential match-up and as they look for his weaknesses.
As with so much in life, there are always pros and cons.