The long, tough slog through the Democratic primaries gave the Republicans some time to strategize and plan for the general election, The Hill notes, and now their preparations will be put to the test. San Youngman reports that GOP researchers have plenty of data to use in their general-election contest against Barack Obama, some of which may have come from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and even her own mouth. The RNC rolls out a new website today to feature their efforts to defeat Obama and elect John McCain:

When Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) finally secured the Democratic nomination Tuesday night, his Republican opponents were fully prepared to welcome the Illinois senator to the general election.

Given Obama’s six-month, 54-contest, grueling up-and-down nomination battle against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), the desire for a breather would be understandable.

But the Republican National Committee (RNC) had already been piling up reams of opposition research, some of which it had already released, that it will use to define Obama before he has a chance to recover from the primaries. …

“Once he wheezed across the finish line, we were ready to help educate voters about Obama’s plans to raise taxes, cut troop funding, and negotiate with hostile leaders,” Amber Wilkerson, an RNC spokeswoman, said. “Thankfully, we only had to look to comments from Democrat leaders — including Hillary Clinton and John Edwards — to pose some important questions about Obama’s poor judgment and weak experience.”

Expect the GOP to hammer on Obama’s coast through the last three months of the campaign, mainly to boost morale among their own troops to show that Obama can be beaten. Hillary changed tactics at the beginning of March, becoming much more confrontational with Obama, and saw a great deal of success. She won almost all of the contests between March and June but could not overcome Obama’s large delegate lead in the end. The pressure from Hillary caused Obama to make several gaffes and retractions, continuing even to last night as Obama flip-flopped on Jerusalem.

The new RNC site, Meet Barack Obama, will serve as the repository of these kinds of stumbles and oppo research. It has the widget calculating the exact length of time since Obama’s last visit to Iraq, and spots for RNC videos, grass-roots organization, and highlighted issues that will undoubtedly update as events unfold. Right now they have a feature on the Rezko convictions and a site where visitors can leave questions for Barack Obama to answer. (I’m sure he’ll get right on that.)

It seems fairly impressive. The RNC didn’t sleepwalk through the last three months, and they put their enormous fundraising advantage to good use. Their $40 million cash-on-hand dwarfs the DNC’s $4.4 million, which won’t even cover the cost of their convention. The Democrats have known McCain as the nominee for three months and have yet to put together any coordinated effort against him. The GOP have the advantage early, and if they can maintain their fundraising advantage over the DNC, they may be able to keep it through the general election.