David Broder has a great column in The Washington Post today about the startling lack of experience among leading Democratic contenders.

This will become the most important issue of the campaign after the primaries are completed (if they are ever completed).

Neither Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama'Too Far Left' hashtag trends on Twitter Krystal Ball: Patrick's 2020 bid is particularly 'troublesome' for Warren Deval Patrick: Biden 'misses the moment' in 2020 campaign MORE nor Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy 'Too Far Left' hashtag trends on Twitter Resistance or unhinged behavior? Partisan hatred reaches Trump's family MORE have served as an executive in any fashion, and their Senate experience is limited at best.

Broder put it best when he opened his column today: “It was fascinating to watch the three top contenders for the Democratic nomination discuss their concept of the presidency during Tuesday night’s MSNBC debate in Las Vegas. But it was also stunning to realize that the three current and former senators who have survived the shakeout process — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards — have not a day of chief executive experience among them.”

He went on to say about the Republicans: “By contrast, the Republican field is loaded with people who are accustomed to being in charge of large organizations. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee were governors of their states of Massachusetts and Arkansas, Rudy Giuliani served as the mayor of New York, and John McCain, as he likes to remind audiences, commanded the largest squadron in the Navy air wing.”

Issues play a role in campaigns. So does the branding of the parties.

But usually the candidate who has the best experience coupled with the best message (along with the best personality) will win.

The notable exception, that Barack Obama likes to point out, was Abraham Lincoln. But these are different times than the days before the Civil War, and let’s face it, neither Obama nor Clinton are Abraham Lincoln.

When auditioning for any job, it is best to have relevant experience to enhance the chances of getting it. Being first lady or a community organizer is not relevant experience to the job of president.

This will be the issue of the 2008 campaign if either Hillary or Obama get the nomination. I think that is why Republicans still have a good shot of winning.