Friday, February 21, 2020

Primary Parallels, 2016/2020

If you read one article on the Democratic primaries, let it be this one: "The 5 Lessons from 2016 Democrats Need to Understand If They Want to Stop Bernie".

Anyone politically astute recognizes that the 2020 Dems are repeating the mistakes that led to 2016 Reps unexpectedly nominating Trump. But this account, from Jeb Bush's campaign manager, who was actually flattened by that big-truck-out-of-nowhere, shows that the parallels are way deeper than we think. He does a geat job of tersely and readably explaining the forces and fallacies at work.

Some highlights:

Establishment Figures Who Can Make A Difference Can’t Afford To Wait

Back in 2016 as I was trying to recruit name-brand Republicans to join us and create bad news cycles for Trump, I found a two-phase skittishness. The first phase—which is happening right about now on the Democratic side—was “let’s see how the race plays out and I’ll make an endorsement/donation when the field winnows and I can make a difference.”

That sounds reasonable and it’s true that you don’t want to waste your leverage four months from when voting starts. But remember our first lesson: 11 days from now the race will be functionally over. The time to make a difference is now. In less than two weeks, you won’t be able to make a difference.

In 2016 the phase one excuse-making of February ticked over into phase two excuse-making after Super Tuesday. The second phase was “I don’t want to do anything that might harm the nominee.”

Which also sounds reasonable, except that it leaves aside the fact that you just whiffed on your chance to help shape who the nominee would be.

That “wait and see” approach became “it’s too late to do anything” really forking fast!


[The other candidates] went to pains not to target Trump and instead aim their fire at the guys in second, third, fourth, and fifth places. Remember the Christie/Rubio murder-suicide? You would think the non-Bernie Democratic campaigns would’ve learned that shivving one another only helps the frontrunner, not the guy or gal holding the shank.

And yet for two straight debates the non-Bernies repeated the same exact Christie/Rubio nightmare scenario.

Establishment Figures Who Can Make A Difference Can’t Afford To Wait

Imagine the consolidation pressure if an Obama or Clinton came out for Pete or Joe or Amy in the way Ted Kennedy did for Obama in 2008. That would be the type of event that could legitimately change the balance of the race. If it happened soon.

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