I’ve been wondering for weeks why the BBC and the UK newspapers are devoting so much attention to the primaries. Today, in a perceptive piece, my Observer colleague Peter Preston puts forward an interesting conjecture:
Two things follow. One is a new connection that needs making more clearly. British editors are more fascinated by this presidential race than ever, and not just because it comes with black or feminist drum rolls of history attached. This time, for the Mail, Times, Guardian and Telegraph in particular, there are millions of American readers of their websites to be wooed and served, unique users with ad potential attached. So, who wins in November matters much closer to home.
When the Mail lays into Hillary and Matt Drudge’s site carries that copy, the hits grow exponentially. If Mrs Clinton makes it to the Oval office, the Telegraph would reckon to pick up web readers as it leads a conservative attack that consensual US papers might initially shy away from. If Obama or Clinton win, then the Guardian, which has scored so many points by belabouring George Bush, has a different climate to work in.
And the other thing – on behalf of British readers and viewers at least – is to wonder how many miles and hours of faraway, self-cancelling stuff about moods and hunches the market can endure before the real and abiding election starts next autumn…