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Republicans: The Road to Jeb Bush 2016?

As the clip embedded in the post immediately below shows, the Daily Show has taken to presenting this year's election as a throw-away by the Republicans, a staging ground for 2016.Now, the Daily Show is not the News Hour. And I'm no political strategist, despite the fact that I spent the summer in Washington DC. But I have to say I wondered the same thing, and continue to wonder about it as Nate Silver puts Obama's chance of reelection in the "nowcast" at almost 90 percent.Here's my reasoning.1. Americans tend to go with one party for president for eight years, and then switch parties. Not reelecting a president is like firing him--not like selecting someone else in an open job search. Moreover, it is even more unlikely that a national party would refuse the nomination to a sitting president wanting a second term. 2. So. . . . If Romney wins in 2012, he presumptively gets until 2020. Then the Democrats get their eight years, until 2028. Then it's the Republicans' chances again. In 2028, however, many of these "young buck" Republicans will be past their prime running years. They won't be too old to be president, but they'll be the "Prince Charles" of the party, so to speak. Chris Christie will be 66; Paul Ryan will be 58, Mark Rubio will be 57, and Jeb Bush wll be 75--he'll be too old.3. So maybe the Republicans are punting in this election. Mitt isn't popular even with them. So let him have his chance now, when they don't have as much of a chance, anyway. If he wins, great. Some people, doubtless, are hoping the tea party goes down (Ryan) in this election. Others are hoping that the social conservatives go down. But if the party's in flux, they have four more years to figure out what their key message is and to freshen it up.So. . . . as I said, I just lived in DC this summer, but I'm not a political strategist. So I am assuming I am wrong--- please tell me why.

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



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Osama bin laden (in) famously said that people intuitively gravitate towards what they see as the strongest horse. If Obama looks stronger (and he does now), people will gravitate towards him.I recall seeing somewhere, where newspeople interviewed people after Carter lost and it was difficult to find anyone who would publicly support Carter notwithstanding the percentage of people who actually voted for him.This is why there is such an investment by smart politicians in polling and publishing and manipulating polling. It doesn't just show a trend, it can actually produce one.

I'm no political strategist either, but I don't think that political parties (or their candidates) "punt" elections. Quite simply, winning is better than losing. So, why not try to win?There are several models constructed by political scientists that attempt to predict the outcome of presidential elections using just a handful of indicators. How long the incumbent party has held the White House *is* a factor for some of those models. Apparently there's some evidence to support the conclusion that the longer a party has been in office, the less likely that party's candidate is to win an election. As a result, those models give a bit of an edge to Pres. Obama since the Democrats have held the White House for just one term.The models that rely primarily on economic data have tended to agree that this year's presidential election will be close, and that Pres. Obama has a slight edge. We'll see what happens over the next 8 weeks, but so far that's exactly how the campaign has played out.I think what we've seen within the Republican Party reflects: 1) how the disastrous record of the Bush administration tainted everyone closely associated with it, and 2) the Party's decision to "double down" on its conservatism in the wake of the 2006 and 2008 elections---for which it was seemingly rewarded in the 2010 elections.

Mitt Romney has been running for something like seven years now. The organizational groundwork he has laid and the funds he has raised during the past four years (not to mention his personal wealth) are huge barriers to entry. Had Romney declined to run this year, the Republican field may have looked very different.President Obama is unique. That America elected him president is something that a lot of Americans are proud of. I think Americans as a whole would be reluctant to cast that accomplishment aside four years later. My personal opinion is that neither party will ever be able to bottle that magic again.

As I look back over the Republican primaries, I don't see much evidence that the Establishment had a lot of control over the outcome of the process. They got the candidate they got because of the system and zeitgeist they were operating in. In fact, as I recall, various factions of the establishment tried to change the narrative and failed. Now I think they're doing the best they can to win with a flawed candidate.And they may still do it, post-convention euphoria aside. Dice are even now being rolled in Israel (intentionally, I think) and Libya, and next week will bring troubles of its own ("for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself").Anyhow, I don't see much scope for the kind of party control you're describing.

Today Mr Silver lays out an uphill battle in Florida for Mr Romney. The president can lose 7 of 8 key states, holding NV or NH, all of which are leaning his way anyway, and if he wins Florida and holds Pennsylvania, he still wins the Electoral College. Why these guys are pummeling my wife's tv commercial breaks here in Iowa is a wonder to me. They should be buying 24-hour infomercials in Florida.Maybe the GOP is hoping to take the Senate and hoping the Tea Party focuses its public nonsense on the presidency. A solid GOP Congress can still obstruct a lot of good. Maybe the Republicans think they can win it all in 2016.

President Obama is looking weaker than ever especially after that quite lame D-convention where they mainly highlighted BC pills and abortion rights. I have never figured out when abortions actually received rights in the first place, but Democrats seem to think they have them and indeed that they are entitled to them.Between collectivism, abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia, today's Democrats really represent the culture of death that JP2 referred to.

@Ken (9/12, 10:11 am) When you say "President Obama is looking weaker than ever", what are you basing that opinion on? (I ask because the best polling numbers---both nationally and in several swing states---Obama has had in many months have come since the end of the Democratic convention.)

The American voters in effect fired President George H. W. Bush after only one term.The American voters also in effect fired President Jimmy Carter after only one term.So the American voters may also in effect fire President Barack Obama after only one term.At the present time, the economy is not working in President Obama's favor. For this reason, he is vulnerable.

Americans don't necessarily give their presidents, once they get them, eight years. Ask Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, two out of the last five presidents we can account for. (We don't know about the incumbent yet.) That's only 40 percent. In the 20th Century, Americans kept Taft, Coolidge, Hoover and Johnson for only one term. (And Kennedy and Harding died in office.)I don't believe any two-term president had a second term that was better than his first, including the four-term candidate who got into trouble for court-packing in the always jinxed second act. Considering Jefferson's embargo and Nixon's Watergate and all the lesser disasters of second terms, the voters would be, I think, correct in thinking once is enough.

Also notable is the fact that president Clinton was the only Democrat since FDR to be allowed eights years in office.

Let's throw another thing in the mix. Texas is expected to transition to swing state and eventually turn blue as demographics remake the state. Imagine the electoral map with Texas as a swing state? or blue?

Given the polls are so close, I'm not sure anyone making a prediction with 90% confidence (on any candidate) should be afforded much credibility. I wonder if someone is trying to make a name for himself, and figures he's got a 50/50 chance of being perceived as a brilliant if it breaks his way.

Ken - "allowed" is an interesting way to characterize it. Are you suggesting that voters had something to do with not permitting Kennedy to get to a second term? Or that an election was held prior to 1968 that turned LBJ out of office (or, similarly, one prior to 1952 that ended Truman's presidency)? By this measure, neither was Nixon "allowed" eight years. So, the only single-term incumbents since FDR actually voted out of office were Carter and G.H.W. Bush. Unless you count Ford, which if you do means that more incumbent Republican presidents than Democrat have actually been rejected by voters since FDR (or "not allowed" their eight years).The tallying gets to nothing anyway. Events both predictable and far less so exerted huge influence on the holding of office through the second half of the twentieth century and the first years of the twenty-first. There are also the what-ifs. What if Robert Kennedy in 1968 had not chosen to run (would LBJ have stayed in?), or had not been assassinated (would Nixon have beaten him)? What if the Supreme Court had not intervened to award G.W. Bush -- loser of the 2000 popular vote -- the electoral college victory? What if there had been no 9/11 attacks, which newly emerging reports suggest were preventable, or a manufactured climate of fear based on ginned-up "evidence" of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, to "sway" voters in 2004? We might otherwise be seeing now the graceful wind-down of the successful Kerry presidency!

Well, I don't think anybody withe the last name of Bush is electable in this century.A bummer if you happen to be a democrat with that unfortunate last name.Jeb is out.

I read an article yesterday about despairing Republican pundits who are even complaining publicly that they have no place to go. I thought it was at David Frum's blog, but it's not there today. Hmm. Are the rational conservatives finally realizing that the GOP is dead? It simply has no very competent leaders. The best Republicans many can come up with is Jeb Bush, who may be a talented man, but try winning the presidency with that name. Neither does there seem to be any political theorist among the conservatives who is strong enough to revise their disastrous old trickle down economic ideology. How to dump their icon Ronald Reagan is their real political problem.

"Lose now and win in '16" would be a very risky strategy. The economy is likely to continue its slow improvement over the next four years, and the ACA health law will be fully implemented and more popular. The current Republican party's demographic death march will also be further along. If they don't win now and get some credit for improving conditions, they'll have nothing in 2016. On the other hand, voters don't always reward a party's success, or Gore would have won handily in 2000.Mark Proska: If you are referring to Nate Silver, he has already made a name for himself, and he is already perceived as brilliant by people who are not simply unhappy about his analysis.

John--How can he have made a name for himself if I've never heard of him?

@Mark Proska (9/12, 12:47 pm) Because the New York Times hired him, of course. :-)I jest. More seriously, Silver "made his name" in 2008 by taking his "Moneyball"-like statistical analysis skills and applying them to political campaigns, elections, and public opinion polling.

Luke--Ah, thanks. But what is the New York Times? Never heard of that, either.

Glad to see that my punditry credentials are on par with Cathleen Kaveny's immersion summer in DC: I was born and grew up in DC, and my father was a local union boss and VP, and did some lobbying on the Hill.My own take is that the real "blue bloods" of the Republican Party [this certainly includes the Bushies] have looked around, examined their presidential candidate that was next-in-line [Republicans always nominate the current dauphin - Ann Romney did say "It's our turn."], and decided that they would contribute the requisite donation for members of the ruling class, but essentially sit on their hands during the campaign. Note the decided "enthusiasm gap" at the RNC in Tampa.Message to Mitt: You're on your own!While there are cycles in American presidential politics as CK postulates, it still requires incumbent presidents to not screw-up too badly or else the cycles reset themselves. [Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush come to mind.] Politically, the Republican Party after Mittens goes down in flames is going to have figure out how to at least cage their crazies on the right-wing. Think Grover Norquist, WSJ editorial page, Tea Baggers like Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh wantabees, Fox News lunatics, the Vagina Ideologues, Sarah Palin types, birthers, etc. - pretty much the bulk of the present Republican coalition.Not an easy task now that the Republican crypt monster has broken out of the dungeon and taken control of the party apparatus. [Think of RNC Chair Reince Priebus' drunken diatribe complete with slurred speech in Tampa!] But, Jeb Bush is the kind of candidate who has the credibility, or is it "gravitas" to pull that off. Remember, the Bushies were competent enough to steal a presidential election right in full public view and get away with it - preside over the single greatest attack upon America soil, and then launch a military invasion totally fabricated on lies. We're talking strictly varsity team here! The Bushies are if nothing else competent political operatives. [Must come from all that time that Poppi Bush spent at the CIA plotting coups and assassinations?!?]

I think Silver's model looks less at the overall popular vote as projected by the polls (clearly very close) and more at state by state polling. Romney will clearly win by huge margins in some states, but whether he wins 60 or 70% of the vote, he still only gets the electoral votes available. I think Silver is confident that Obama will win (even by modest margins) in enough states to get the electoral vote even if the popular vote is tied. For myself, if I were a betting man, I'd not bet more than a dollar. But Silver has a pretty good track record and reputation (so far).

What I like about Silver is that he's wise enough never to be sure. He says that the last poll is no better than any other one -- that it's the trend of polls that's significant, maybe. It's all very fractalish -- approximate repetitions within approximate repetitions, and all only approximate.

Don't worry Jim J; looks like we will all have Mittens in November!

"How can he have made a name for himself if Ive never heard of him?"Mark: it is never wise to betray one's parochialism and ignorance in public.I'm sure that Nate Silver has never heard of you either. Now, if we could poll the numbers, which of the two of you do you think would have a larger following?

Think of RNC Chair Reince Priebus' drunken diatribe complete with slurred speech in Tampa!In my opinion, that is his normal way of speaking.The Republican that I thought appeared to be a bit too loose was Boehner when he introduced Dolan and stumble embarrassingly on the word preferential. (Hes a man who knows that the preferential option for the poor doesnt translate into a preferential option for big government.)

Ken, did you write that before -- or after -- Romney embarrassed himself over the murder of our ambassador?I expect the few remaining undecideds to decide in favor of Obama when they realize that Romney's foreign policy begins and ends with "Let's make war on Iran."

Angela: Begins, yes, but hardly ends with war on Iran. You're forgetting how helpful Romney was to the Brits, who would have totally fumbled that Olympics thing without his guidance. And then, of course, he's identified our number 1 geopolitical foe lying just a quick gaze across the Bering Strait, thus demonstrating continuity with another great Republican wink. Er, wonk.

"Now, if we could poll the numbers, which of the two of you do you think would have a larger following?"Jim--For some, I suppose, having a large following is more important than anything else.

I think that after the election Obama should offer the ambassadorship in Libya to Mitt and Ann Romney.I'm sure that Mittens' shoot-from-the-lip diplomacy will go over really big with all those Islamic fanatics. Ann could exercise her dancing horse, Rafalca, out in the desert or along the "shores of Tripoli."Why not? Mittens and Ann would make a good American version of the has-been Duke and Duchess of Windsor [Wallace Simpson: "You can never be too rich or too thin."] attending diplomatic receptions all over the Arab world where they just love Mormons.

TANGENTInteresting poll today -- I mean a change in the Dow of 200 points -- up 200, not down. This is amazing considering that what Wall Street hates most is insecurity, and the news from the Middle East is awful. So what could account for the upward swing? Well, Bernanke just said that he'll keep money cheap, but add to that Mitt's nonsensical embassy talk and it looks like Mitt has finally put his foot in his mouth one too many times, so Wall St. has finally concluded that he can't win in November. So now the future looks sure enough for a recovery. So the Dow is up 205.Granted, Nate says don't put too much faith in one poll (or, I say, day at the Dow), but sometimes they are the start of trends.

OOPS --Bernanke didn't say he was keeping money cheap (which he was already doing). He said he was going to make more money available by quantitative easing, whatever that is. It sounds thoroughly Keynesian, but I guess it's OK. According to Frum even conservative economists are praising the move. Looks like it's virtuous to be Keynesian so long as you're not a Democrat, especially not a Democrat president.Wonder what Mitt will say about this. .

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