The party hasn’t decided yet.Oct 5, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 04 • By JAY COST
By most accounts, Joe Biden is very close to running for president. His entry would shake up the Democratic race. But could he possibly defeat Hillary Clinton?
It would be hard. Clinton has the backing of most of the Democratic party establishment. According to FiveThirtyEight, Clinton has been endorsed by over 100 House Democrats, 30 Senate Democrats, and 8 Democratic governors. This is an impressive showing, outpacing the establishment support that many previous nominees had obtained by this point in the cycle.
According to The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform, that establishment support could be decisive. Written by Marty Cohen, David Carol, Hans Noel, and John Zaller, The Party Decides is an impressive scholarly study that has broken out of political science circles to influence a broad range of pundits, politicos, and intellectuals. The authors argue that, even in the era of open nominations—when voters in primaries and caucuses seemingly select their party’s nominee—party elites still determine who wins the nomination. They typically come together around a single candidate and swing the nomination to him against an array of insurgents.
While The Party Decides is a great book, it suffers from the same limitation as almost all scholarship on political parties: a dearth of data. The parties are public-private institutions that do not have to disclose most of their internal doings. So political scientists struggle to confirm hypotheses about the parties. This is one reason The Party Decides relies heavily on politicians’ endorsements of candidates to test its theory. While they have little direct influence on voters, endorsements can indicate whether the party elites are coalescing around a candidate, bringing with them their donor networks, strategists, and public credibility. Unfortunately, more direct evidence of such coordination is impossible to acquire because these party decisions are secret.
Even so, the theory is more or less sound. The consensus choice of the political class is virtually guaranteed to win the nomination. While insurgents may make the early contests interesting, they typically cannot overcome the party itself. Sooner or later, the establishment candidate wins. This is great news for Clinton.
For at least three related reasons, however, the theory may not apply in 2016.
The first is that not all insurgents are created equal: Joe Biden is no Dennis Kucinich. He is the sitting vice president of the United States, which implies access to fundraising networks, campaign talent, and other resources that outsider candidates simply lack. It also lends him a gravitas that hardly anybody else in the party possesses. This is important because the control of the nomination by the party elite is mediated by the party base. Strictly speaking, the voters do indeed determine the nominees under the current system, and the party cannot dictate terms to them. Instead, the elites coordinate their substantial resources to boost their preferred candidate, thus making victory prohibitively difficult for outsiders. Because of his position in the party, Biden should be able to raise enough cash on his own to compete at least in the early states, despite the preponderance of elites going for Clinton. He also has the name recognition and credibility to prompt a close look from Democratic voters.
Historically speaking, vice presidents who run for the White House rarely lose the nomination. In the postwar era, seven sitting or former vice presidents have run for the nomination: Alben Barkley, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, and Al Gore. Only Barkley and Quayle failed to secure it. The reason is simple: The office of vice president has a lot of heft. It probably is not enough to overcome the establishment support Clinton enjoys, but the prospect cannot be dismissed out of hand.
3:29 PM, Sep 17, 2015 • By SHOSHANA WEISSMANN
Martin O'Malley has continued to be a thorn in the side of the Democratic National Committee. Over the past few weeks, he's publicly criticized the DNC and its chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for limiting debates in order to help Hillary Clinton. Schultz hasn't taken it lightly.
2:18 PM, Sep 11, 2015 • By SHOSHANA WEISSMANN
Today, Jon Favreau, the former director of speechwriting for President Obama, tweeted that Vice President Joe Biden should run for president.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:10 PM, Sep 8, 2015 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on Hillary Clinton's bad weekend and the Iran deal.
Sep 14, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 01 • By LEE SMITH
Last week the White House puffed its feathers when Barbara Mikulski became the 34th Democratic senator to come out in favor of the nuclear deal with Iran. Mikulski’s support ensures enough votes in Obama’s pocket to sustain a presidential veto on a resolution of disapproval, but it’s still not clear why the administration is celebrating. A majority of senators and congressmen oppose Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative. So does most of the American public, by a two-to-one ratio according to a new poll released last week.
How Alaska’s governor went from Palin favorite to Obama pal.Sep 14, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 01 • By FRED BARNES
Governor Bill Walker flew to Washington, D.C., to accompany President Obama aboard Air Force One on the president’s seven-hour flight to Anchorage. “I’m honored to be governor of Alaska at the time a sitting president comes to Alaska,” he told the Alaska Dispatch News. “You bet.”
5:11 PM, Sep 2, 2015 • By SHOSHANA WEISSMANN
While looking through the newest batch of Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department, one finds a disturbing anti-Israel trend. Her advisers regularly criticized Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the "US. Jewish community," and AIPAC.
Hillary Clinton’s flawed plan for student debt relief. Aug 24, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 47 • By JAMES PIERESON
Nearly everyone recognizes that student debt has risen to a level that will be difficult to sustain, given the nation’s slow-growing economy and the sagging incomes of too many college-educated Americans. Nearly 40 million Americans carry some form of student debt; more than 7 million are in default on their loans, and many more have missed scheduled payments. The total amount of outstanding student debt is estimated to be $1.2 trillion, with about two-thirds of this sum underwritten by the federal government.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy ranks way up there. Aug 24, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 47 • By JAY COST
Hillary Clinton is a scandalous candidate for president of the United States. Most people acknowledge this, at least judging by her plummeting poll numbers. A raft of stories gives the distinct impression that she and her husband have been running an elaborate pay-to-play operation. Donations to the Clinton Foundation may have produced favorable State Department policies dealing with Russia-owned U.S. uranium deposits, Haitian relief efforts, and foreign banking interests.
Which one is the bigger problem?Jul 27, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 43 • By FRED BARNES
Two political entities are in a state of panic. One is the leadership of the Republican party, suffering a fright attack over the visibility of Donald Trump as a Republican presidential candidate. The other is Hillary Clinton, whose Democratic presidential campaign plunges as she tries to appease the left wing of her party.
4:44 PM, Oct 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A video tracker for the opposition research firm America Rising asked Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn whether she voted for President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections. Nunn, who is in a close race to fill the open Georgia Senate seat, refused to answer the direct question.
"Ms. Nunn, did you vote for President Obama in 2008 and 2012?" the tracker asked.
6:02 PM, Sep 27, 2014 • By MATT LABASH
If I sported a hairpiece, I’d be wearing it at half-mast right about now, upon hearing that the world just grew a little less interesting. For the most colorful man who ever inhabited Congress, former Ohio Democratic Rep. James A .
Not ready for Hillary.10:19 AM, Sep 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Tom Harkin, the top Democrat in Iowa, tells ABC News that he has serious questions about where Hillary Clinton stands on the issues:
"But some Democrats still have their doubts," says ABC's Jonathan Karl. "Some progressives are a little uneasy with Hillary Clinton and is she going to be too hawkish on foreign policy, is she going to be too moderate on economic issues?"