the big super tuesday winner is … the party decides guys???

The Party Decides, by Marty Cohen, David Karol, Hans Noel and John Zaller, is a well known book in political science with a simple argument: in presidential party nominations, voters follow elites. Once you get the endorsements, you get votes.

When Trump won in 2016, some political scientists thought that the model was dead. But basic statistics tell you to calm down. The Party Decides was based on data going back to 1980 and the model fits the Democratic nomination of 2016. My view is that Trump is sui generis and an extreme outlier. The GOP will revert to an elite driven nomination model once Trump leaves office.

With a strong Sanders candidacy in 2016 and 2020, my confidence weakened a bit, but I still predicted that the most likely winner was Biden, though I thought the odds were lower than normal for a (quasi) incumbent VP. I softened on Biden given his really bad performance in Nevada and Sanders polling strength in Texas and California. Briefly, I thought that Biden had tanked because a blow out Sanders win in California would dwarf Biden’s strength in the South.

But then the Party Decided: we saw two high profile candidates drop out and endorse Biden and prominent Black political leaders endorsed Biden. And then the Biden turn around happened. The Black vote, which has predicted every single winner except 1988, stayed with Biden and Biden saw a resurgence. Biden also regained some of his lost White votes.

The deepest lesson may be that party elites learned a lesson from the 2016 GOP debacle. If you don’t swallow your pride and back an establishment candidate, you can be saddled with  a loony for years.

Bottom line: Trump is an outlier and Biden is politics as normal. Advantage – the Party Decides.



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Written by fabiorojas

March 4, 2020 at 3:04 pm

Posted in uncategorized

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