Friday, February 8, 2013

It begins.

So, the best thing about being a college professor has to be the terrific students who love this poli-sci-rrific stuff as much as we do. And into the fold comes Nicholas, who brought his WaPo article to my attention today: The Invisible Primary begins in earnest. And thank you, Nicholas, who just earned extra credit points towards his final grade.

Now, anyone who knows me know that I loath the term "earnest" for reasons too personal to address here (you know what you did, Ernie!) but in this case I will give the word a pass, because it fits so well. We have begun the Invisible Primary in earnest. Who says so? Apparently... the pollsters, and "The Fix" of the Washington Post who felt fealty towards the horse race strong enough to go ahead and lay down some odds so freakin' early on in the game. Hence the love of the I.P. Please allow me to nugget it down for you, so you can skip your daily dose of Cillizza and get to the good stuff - catching up on "House of Cards.":

1) Most notably, the Fix skipped the Dems all together for now, making the passive-aggressive argument that Hillary was the one to beat (has he been reading this blog? Was he the one who asked what I was wearing? Oh Chris. You flatter.) and so it was a top 10 list of GOPers on the hunt.

2) The Boring Were Named for Intellectual Street Cred: You have your Thune, Kasich, Pence, and Portmans (Portmen? And why so many from Ohio?) who bring the brains to the operation and portend weighty conversations about budgets and balances that the rest of the electorate finds tedious. Yet important. but mostly boring.

3) The Rock Stars Were Named for Readability: We have our Ryans (again!), the Bushes (again!) and the Christies (again!) who are kicking ass and taking names. Oh, Paul Ryan - we loved your abs so much in the 2012 Veep-Stakes, maybe we will see you in 2016? Our Twitter feeds hope so. Jeb - everyone knew you were the smart one. Maybe our Bush fatigue has lessened - no wait. No, it hasn't. We still hate your family for destroying the world. Sorry! And good luck with that e-mail hacking thing, because that just stinks and you guys don't deserve that. Yeesh. And Chris - love, love, love the way you take command. So go ahead and make our day: Change the conversation about you, please. And thanks.

4) Bobby Jindall - if I may steal a line from a mediocre political move: You are the future of the Republican Party, And you always will be.

5) And finally: My man Marco. Giving the response to the SOTU on Tuesday! How freakin' COOL is THAT! Oh - but ask Bobby about the perils of that limelight. Sometimes it burns. You can do it, Marco Rubio! Everyone says you can! But the problems with the Invisible Primary? Sometimes "everyone" is wrong.

So, ladies & gentlemen, we have our all-male Republican review. Now that the top ten slate has been posted, let's watch how these men use the actual Invisible Primary mechanisms to advance their campaign and earn the positive media attention they are so obsessive about. Of course, it is still so incredibly early to cancel any other possible contenders, just as it is too early to lay odds at the horse race. But such is the joy of the Invisible Primary: So much time, so little to do.

Wait. Reverse that.


  1. Correction! Conventional wisdom (from my husband who is not only wise, but also conventional) says a clarification point is needed: The Bush Family did not destroy the world. In fact, the Bush Family is quite lovely and needs a salute for their service to this nation. So, true that – I stand corrected. I seek not to insult a family, especially this one. And thank you for your service.

    As for global destruction: It happened, but it was not familial. It was the work of GW and his posse to include such folks as Cheney, Addington, Rummy, Bremmer and the rest of the We-Aught-To Do-Some-Shit-Gang. To you I say: Huzzah! And to Jeb I say: Good luck! And to my hubby I say: Better now?

  2. Pence brings Intellectual Street Cred?!?!?! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  3. When are we going to talk about third party spoilers??? It is apparent with his "Tea Party" SOTU rebuttal that Rand Paul is taking up his fathers mantle as splinter cell GOP candidate... I mean Libertarian Party candidate who continues to serve in congress as a Republican. It is unlikley he is mainstream enough for the Party of Rove. So, Libertarian it is?

    Who else is out there? Rosanne Barr? Gary Johnson?

  4. Nate, the quick answer to your question is: if, and only if they make a difference in either the nomination or general election. Structurally, the former is almost impossible. It's hard to put together a scenario where someone like Rand Paul would even begin to gather enough delegates for a hung nomination.

    As to his potential to act as a spoiler in the general election, even his father, with his tinfoil hat brigade of fiercely loyal supporters, never seriously considered making such an independent run in the course of his congressional career. Unless Sen. Paul wants to become persona non grata in the Senate and seriously undermine his effectiveness as a legislator, he probably will take the same tack as his father. Separating yourself from the party is a MAJOR step down in effective candidacy as you give up just about all the support that comes with the state and national party organizations and their affiliated groups. None of the people you mention could even begin to make a serious run without that organizational support.

    Whatever conflict we see within the party right now is just that, conflict within the party. Even the meaning of "libertarian" is converging towards the median ideological position of the Republican party. Several of the Pauls' positions would have been flatly rejected by libertarians of 20 or 30 years ago. The very fact that they feel comfortable enough to identify with and compete within the party is pretty telling.

    This conflict is nothing new and talk of a Republican civil war is wildly misinformed. What the GOP is exhibiting now is nothing compared to the fissures that the Democrats experienced in the forties thourgh sixties when they faced splinter parties in presidential races. That kind of ideological discord brews third party runs, not what Republicans face today. The ideological space between these two camps is very slight evidenced by any of Poole et al's nominate scores. That gives them very little ideological space to build any viable coalition upon within the electorate and spoil anything.

  5. If I could chime in here.... I have never thought the Tea Party to be a viable third party because it lacks the cohesion necessary for such an endeavor to stick. BUT what I do find interesting is that the fragmentation is causing problems for the GOP in terms of party adherence - this is something that the Republicans have had less trouble with than the Dems. Dave is correct (and I would expect nothing less from my smart friend)that the Democrats have weathered far greater fissures. It's just that THIS is a quality that Democrats are used to (a party that slightly resembles the bar scene from Star Wars) and the Republicans (a party that resembles tee-time at the Winged Foot Country Club) are not.
    Just my two cents.