Entries in MassPoliticsProfs by Jerold Duquette

It seems to me that the folks attacking the party nomination processes in both parties have shown themselves to be “fair weather” democratic purists at best. Political decision making processes designed to produce democratically accountable and substantively appropriate results are particularly appropriate in our hyper-competitive and polarized political environment; an environment that clearly incentivizes a flexible relationship, to say the least, between one’s principals and interests.

Move over Jeff Jacoby, Eric Fehrnstrom’s appears to be gunning for your beat over at the Globe. A couple weeks back I gently debunked Fehrnstrom’s transparently weak argument that Trump could beat Clinton. This week, he has published an even more transparently weak attack on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy that I will herein debunk a bit less gently. Frankly, Mr. Fehrnstrom writes like a graduating senior taking a course pass-fail, though I’m not sure he deserves credit for giving it “the old college try.”

Eric Fehrnstrom thinks that Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton. Barring the unforeseeable, he’s wrong, and more importantly for my purposes here, including the unforeseeable in ostensibly serious political analysis kind of negates the point of offering serious political analysis. 

For Trump, political interests and principles are just variables in a market analysis.  He jumped into presidential politics this year because he saw very friendly market conditions. He recognized the timing was good for responding to the pent up political demands of a certain type of voter, and that in 2016 at least he is more well positioned to exploit that demand in the short run than are the professional pols on the national stage.

More than anything else, this presidential campaign season has shown that the commercial media’s “bias” is about the “Benjamins,” not about pushing an ideological or partisan political agenda. For the GOP, it will serve as an invaluable lesson about what can happen when you fall for your own B.S.
More than anything else right now President Obama wants to insure that his successor is a Democrat. If the next president is a Republican, everything President Obama was able to achieve via executive order would be undone post-haste, and his most important legislative accomplishments would undoubtedly be scaled back or reversed. The negative consequences of GOP control of both Congress and the White House would be catastrophic.  Until the untimely death of Antonin Scalia, Obama’s 2016 electoral calculations were even simpler.

Speculation about when or if Senator Elizabeth Warren would endorse one of the candidates battling for her party’s nomination has been hot and heavy.  Sanders’ backers, in particular, have been confidently speculating that Warren would eventually side with Bernie.  The truth is that Warren will not endorse until the nomination is a fait accompli.  She will not put her foot on the scale to help the now faltering protest candidacy of Bernie Sanders primarily because she believes in the Democratic Party.  She believes that a strong united Democratic Party is the key to electoral victory and policy accomplishment.

The death of Justice Scalia is bad news for the GOP no matter how you slice it. The only real issue here for Republicans is how they might minimize the damage. The answer is by giving Obama’s nominee a fair hearing and a vote.  In so doing, the GOP would undercut the argument that will otherwise win this election for Hillary Clinton, namely that a Republican president in 2017 would put the entire federal government under the firm control of lunatics willing and able to repeal the 20th century.

Candidates, campaign operatives, high profile donors and endorsers, media analysts, and reporters all have very strong incentives to base their electoral projections primarily on factors that their target audiences both understand and believe credible. Unfortunately, that means willfully discounting the single most potent and predictive factor in election outcomes, party identity. Of course, if campaigners, pollsters, and media pundits took the role of party leanings more seriously, most of them would be out of a job.

Hate Ted Cruz? Serving him up in an election he will lose to Hillary Clinton would be delicious punishment and would have the additional benefit of helping restore the credibility of the national GOP.  If the alternative is Trump, whose nomination would spell very serious trouble for down ballot Republicans, this seemingly bitter pill might be more palatable to the Republican establishment.
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