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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Leaderless Parties

There has been a great deal of talk about a USA Today poll finding that 52% could not come up with a name when asked to specify "the main person" who speaks for Republicans today. The GOP certainly has serious problems, but this poll result is not one of them. Parties that hold neither the White House nor Congress generally do not have "a main person." Consider the Democrats just a few years ago. Pollsters did not ask such a question at the time, but journalists noted the absence of a "main Democrat."
  • Howard Fineman: "The Democrats are leaderless and reeling, seemingly bereft of inspiring ideas" (Newsweek, December 27, 2004).
  • James Harding: "The leaderless and cowed opposition in Washington - a Democratic party in disarray over its message, the moral values debate and its future standard-bearer - may give Mr Bush yet more room to exploit the power of the presidential bully pulpit" (Financial Times, January 19, 2005).
  • Howard Fineman (again): "Leaderless and intellectually rudderless, the Democrats are desperate for issues, and they have decided (to the extent there is a `they') to make a pinata of DeLay" (Newsweek, March 30, 2005).
  • Ryan Lizza: "Democrats are, at the moment, leaderless. There are few Democrats who command enough attention to make the party's case to the country" (The New Republic, September 19, 2005).
  • Helen Thomas: "The leaderless Democrats, speaking in a cacophony, are being outgunned by the conservatives and members of their own party representing the Democratic Leadership Council who are at heart `Republican lite.'" (Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2006).