What’s up with the Democrats?

Very good stuff from Seth Masket:

I usually push back at claims that the Democratic Party is in disarray, particularly right in the middle of a nomination contest. It’s supposed to be a messy process, after all. Messiness needn’t prevent the party from finding a nominee and rallying around that person. But it seems reasonable to conclude that some aspects of this cycle are weird. For one thing, we’re now several weeks past Iowa, and there are different polling, endorsement, delegate count, and campaign spending leaders. Very few candidates dropped out after the initial contests, and it’s not at all clear who the most likely candidate for the nomination is right now.

But why? What makes this cycle so unusual? …

As laid out in the “Theory of Parties” article a few years ago, the ideal party nominee is a combination of two main factors. First, that person should be broadly acceptable to major factions in the party and able to deliver on things that people in the party care about. Second, that person should be electable. [emphases mine] A party doesn’t want to nominate just anyone who can win an election, because they actually want some things out of that person when they’re in office. But they don’t want to ignore electability completely, since there’s no point in picking a person who’s good on the issues but can’t win…

But as my book research shows, there has been little agreement among party activists about why they lost in 2016. Some say the problem was Hillary Clinton. Others say the problem was the campaign. Others blame messaging. Still others blame Bernie Sanders, or Russia, or James Comey, or sexism in the media. It was a strange enough and close enough election that almost any of these explanations is plausible. Usually, once you figure out the narrative, you can figure out the path forward and the type of nominee to pick for next time. But party activists haven’t come close to a consensus on a narrative. If anything, they’re more divided now about why they lost that election than they were in 2017.

All this is to say that the normal process by which party insiders pick a presidential nominee has been short-circuited. That doesn’t necessarily tell us which way the party will go. But it suggests that the types of nominees Democrats have come up with in the past — experienced politicians with stances that are broadly acceptable to groups within the party — are at a disadvantage this time around.

My take is that, at this point, the two women left and the most electable.  I’m increasingly thinking that Klobuchar was a one-hit wonder (NH) and that the media treating Elizabeth Warren as if she’s left for dead is pretty much the same as her being left for dead.  My personal hope at this point is that, somehow (Nevada debate tonight?) Warren’s campaign is able to be resuscitated.  But the political scientist in me thinks her moment has come and gone. But, damn do I not want this to come down to a couple of way too old white dudes.

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