Kicking It Old School

KICKING IT OLD SCHOOL….Here’s a miscellaneous thought: The last two years should be dubbed “Revenge of the Old School Political Scientists.” Example #1: In Off Center, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argued that American politics had gotten permanently skewed away from the political center. The Republican Party, contrary to conventional political science predictions, had gotten more and more extreme over the past three decades but was continuing to win at the polls anyway — and the political environment had changed in ways that made their ascendency seem permanent. This became a popular theory in liberal circles, but a few months later Republicans were trounced in the 2006 midterms. The pendulum had swung and the median voters had reasserted themselves.

Example #2: Six years ago Karl Rove made it an article of faith that the way to win modern presidential elections was to appeal to your base. After the 2004 election, in which an army of motivated evangelicals provided George Bush’s margin of victory, this became conventional wisdom on both sides of aisle and throughout the blogosphere. But after today’s primary it seems likely that the frontrunners in both parties will be men who are deliberately appealing to independents. In other words, the old wisdom is holding: a vote from your base is just one vote, but a vote from the center is two votes — the one you get and the one you deny your opponent.

Example #3: Actually, I don’t have a third example. But you’re always supposed to for these kinds of things. It’s not a trend unless you produce three examples. Anybody got one?

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