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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Nihilistic Partisanship

Josh Kraushaar writes at National Journal:
Voters are increasingly casting straight-party ballots, and rooting for their party like sports fans cheer for the Yankees and Red Sox. The number of straight-ticket voters hit an all-time high in 2014, with 84 of the 100 senators now representing states that their party won in the last presidential campaign. By locking down the Republican nomination, Trump has been able to use the party label as a cudgel of loyalty for his campaign. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans now are behind Trump, a remarkable turnaround from the widespread GOP resistance during the primaries.

“What we may be seeing today is the emergence of a new kind of party institution—one that is neither stronger nor weaker, but merely more nihilistic: Bereft of ideas, lacking in purpose, but still a potent force in national elections because of the intensity of hatred for its opponents,” wrote Jason Willick in a perceptive essay at the American Interest.

It’s this degree of party loyalty that prompted Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to line up behind Trump, not because they agree with him -- but because they fear the down-ballot consequences if the leadership breaks with their party’s presidential nominee. For all McConnell’s talk that Republicans will be running their own individual Senate campaigns, he clearly understands that his GOP colleagues will be rendered helpless if the party is divided in two.