tv Parties Reaction to Election Losses CSPAN August 16, 2018 8:33am-9:31am EDT
i'm glad you forged the heat to get here. the last two sessions have been at the library of congress. we will happen next three including this one, talk of our august summer session here in the vfw building. keep your eyes open for this book that tells you about the upcoming talks over the next three wednesdays. welcome in advance to those who come back to join us today. we are going to be hearing from seth masket. seth is a professor of clinical science and director of the center for american politics at the university of denver. we've got some denver colleagues here. a special welcome to them. an author of the inevitable party. attempts to kill the party system failed. i can't say much about it.
i look forward to reading it. perhaps inevitably seth is working on a book that examines democratic party act to this from interpretation seven reactions to the 2016 election. but the talk today is entitled how parties interpret election losses and prepare for the next fight. [applause] >> thank you so much for the introduction. i'm looking forward to the 10% commission on the receiving on that. thank you for coming out today. i appreciate the invitation and a chance to talk about the work i've been working on this summer
focusing on how the democratic party is interpreting what happened in 2016 election, what changes to make and make a difference in the next election. so some of it is very focused on what is happening now, but some of it is very rooted in his oracle events and that's a lot of what i've been working on this summer. so, this talk is really giving me a chance to put together what i've been managing to collect and put it together into something coherent so we'll see how that goes. just to give you an idea what i'm going to talk about how might want to talk about historical examples, what we can see a candidate for office learning from a win or an election loss, trying to put together some sort of a narrative about why the election came out the election cannot hesitate in using the narrative to inform what they do next and then talk about how parties try
to do the same thing. a little bit different going from candidates to parties. parties last a lot longer, they can use information from the law. they try to make decisions about what's going to happen next based on what happened last time and that helps inform them what candidates they should be nominated in the future. i also look a little bit at the changes in the rose party make, particularly the democratic party and its process of changing its own roles every four years in response to the last presidential election. then i want to talk about another aspect of my book research which has been interviews with political activists in early primary states in just to get a sense of how they are interpreting what happened in the 2016 election and trying to impose some sort of a narrative and a narrative and, for the next mission for it. i want to start off by going
back in history, senator henry clay, who spent almost 200 years since he had wanted as many many runs for the presidency. there are in some ways kind of fun and sometimes almost doing similarities between him and hillary clinton in the sense they are both senators, secretaries of state. both came very close to the white house on multiple occasions. it's interesting to focus in particular what happens in relation to the 1828 election. henry clay ran for president along with a lot of other people in 1824. he is not successful, bows out of the race and according to some accounts he is inappropriately offered the secretary of state position seen by many as kind of a corrupt bargain that haunted him throughout his political career. but in 1828, he was very
disturbed by the rise of andrew jackson who he sees as a liberal inappropriate for the office of the presidency, hostile to the very principles of democracy, and he's confident that the american people will never vote for andrew jackson and turns out he's wrong about that. andrew jackson wins by a fairly large margin. henry clay is like i was a fluke. a weird election. these things happening. she immediately starts interpreting the election for what happens next. once the american people learn more about what the guy stands the guy stands where they'll turn them out of office. he'll be lucky to finish his first. of course andrew jackson does survive his first and second term. his large label to result country resort to the appeals focusing on indian removal. he promises to drain the swamp your term limits in office rotation and is able to maintain an important base of support.
so henry clay realizing jackson will not go in his own tries to reach out to what you can see as the sanders revolution coalition of this day in the elite organization bothered by corruption and he reaches out to them and combine their forces and they see him, he's amazing for one thing into something they're they're trying to get rid of. successful in winning his party nomination in a win32, that he spends the entire convention speech going for a long list of reasons for andrew jackson should not be president and that doesn't convince anyone outside the room. jackson wins, clay loses. but nonetheless, you see several
efforts throughout his career of him trying to learn what happens, trying to impose some sort of a narrative explaining the last election and use that to chart out his own career and what his party should be doing in the next few years. jumping forward a few years we can talk about senator pete domenici, republican from new mexico. he actually passed away last year. there's an interesting book about him. political scientist richard said no. some of you may be aware of his work. he spent a lot of his career profiling individual members of congress, following them around while they're in d.c., while they're in their home district in helping people understand just what a member of congress does during their workweek. one of the people was pete domenici ended about she focuses a lot on the first reelection campaign for the senate in 1978.
domenici was widely expected to do very well in that election. domenici does when by only six points and he takes this very hard even though he won the election coming interpreted as kind of a loss, a review by the voters and wants to understand what happened, what went wrong, so he works with his campaign staff to come up with some sort of a narrative of just what happens and why did he do less well than we think there are two problems that undermine you and didn't have a good idea of your policy expertise. they didn't understand the work and they didn't know anything about it. this narrative really informed a media consultant to help them
become more media savvy and he decides to focus on its policy legacy and policy expertise on the budget committee and become one of the key important people in the budget committee really hoping to shape ronald reagan's budget policies throughout the time. this effort to understand the one election has an impact on his career and the careers of several other people in d.c. going on. these are just a couple of examples of candidates attempting to learn from an election loss. there's been some material written on this. margie hirschi at indiana university has written on this quite a bit ph units in some ways bosses are more important. the reissue finds how the conservatives in effect on campaign finance candidates. there's this idea that if you
want whatever you did prior to the went is responsible for your win. just keep on doing what you're doing and go be okay. some people try aggressively not to learn. on the other hand if you lost that suggests he probably did something wrong and people who lose an election are much more open to trying something new, to remake in in themselves in some way, trying to emphasize different policies for different approaches. all of the information is used to construct a narrative about the campaign there really informs what you do in the future. interestingly, it is not really important that this be accurate. it doesn't have to be true. it doesn't have to be supported by evidence. in fact, in some ways it is very hard to know what the truth is that these things. has hirschi points out in her writing, an election is a very one tool. we are handed an election result by the voters or voters
themselves can answer yes or no we like this person or that person, but nonetheless the campaigns, media, scholars trained to understand the meaning of an election that just happened in using that information to go forward. it is somewhat different when we talk about political parties learning from this. candidates can of course recover from losses, but a lot of them don't. a lot of them go off and find different lines of work. parties don't necessarily. parties are functionally immortal. i'll just leave this here. the democratic and republican parties have been doing what they're doing for 150 years, even when they've been massively rebuked by the electorate and still manage to come back and be competitive a few years later. they are trying to learn and be competitive and win the next
time around. those losses can be very important for informing what they do. one of the major books on understanding how parties make decisions and particularly how they decide which candidates to nominate of course the party decided written by hans knoll. david carroll, marty cohen, a book came out about 10 years ago and the basic premise of that book is the party insiders, party elite what they're talking about activists commend major donors, elect officials, they try to reach some decision about which candidate they prefer for the nomination. this is long before anyone starts voting in iowa or new hampshire or anywhere else. they provide with lots of support, endorsement, money,
expertise and things they don't need to prevail in the primary. generally, that candidate goes on to become the nominee. in 2016 it doesn't always happen, but it's a pretty good description. it's a party learning from what happened last time. there has to be some sort of a discussion among activists, party leaders after they lost an election of what they're supposed to do next. one way to think about this is that the parties are trying to balance two main goals. one of them is that they want candidates who are good on policy. they seem likely to deliver a lot on the issues the parties cared about. don't make us easier or harder to get. so raise taxes or lower taxes. they won a lot of thought.
the other hand they want the person to be elected. they want the person to be able to win. if you get too much policy out of them by the same as much of a partisan can scare away voters. the trick for the parties to find the sweet spot between delivering on policy and getting elect me. if you get too much policy you might scare away voters. if you nominated perfect centrist you'll get anything as a result from it. figuring out where the sweet spot lies, a lot of that involves interpreting whatever the last election was. we saw great examples in the 1960s and 70s. for example, in 1864 the republicans nominate barry goldwater. he is widely seen as a right-wing extremist and he goes on to lose an enormous landslide
in the party learns a lesson from that. republicans say we can't just do whatever activists want. we have to bring them in to try something more centrist. they come up with more moderate richard nixon who wins in the post election of 1968. four years later the democrats nominate george mcgovern is widely seen as a left-wing extremists and they go on to win in an enormous landslide. we need to rein in iraq a little bit and try something more moderate than they come up with jimmy carter to wince more narrowly in 1976. the parties in a relatively narrow frame of time both learned this lesson that you can't just give everything the activists want. you have to rein them in a little bit and will help you win. we see another great example of this in the democratic party over a stretch between 1984 and
1992. 1984 of course democrats nominate walter mondale for president. walter mondale goes on to lose in an epic landslide in 1984 to ronald reagan. in 18 popular vote loss. democrats, there is an effort after that to figure out what exactly happened. today we have a broad understanding that while the economy was doing extremely well under ronald reagan he was able to capitalize that. it's hard to beat someone in the circumstances. at that time it was at necessarily the white narrative. lots of competing ideas including that may be mondale shouldn't have promised to raise taxes or maybe reagan was just more charming and witty. there were a lot of ideas floated around. for one of ideas was maybe he
certainly wasn't a left-wing extremists. maybe they should go someone a little more pragmatic and centrist next time around. four years later they come up with mike dukakis is more pragmatic and loses by a bit less. but they made an improvement in so still trying to learn those lessons they come up with a southern governor, bill clinton for 1992. they turn their ideological sails a little bit more, promising to end welfare as we know it. he rebukes jesse jackson a little bit and they come up with a win. those aren't necessarily the reason for the losses and wins but that's the narrative the party excepts over time, the search of march towards moderation would be cheaper that the reunion. one of the things i've been focusing on here is how i party changes its rules.
this is an interesting process going on right now on the democratic side. the democratic national committee needs to go through its delegates selection rules. these are the formal printed rules in 15, 20 page document that described how people get to become the convention and what those effects and what it means and what requirements there are for racial or gender representations and how the states -- is the closest thing we have to a formal charter describing how the party goes about kennedy. the dnc is actually meeting next month -- excuse me, next week in chicago to go through its proposed rule changes in making decisions about addressing things like the role of superdelegates and whether primary should be open to things like that. i was curious looking back over
the last half-century or so how much these rules have changed and when they make those changes. one way i've been doing this at the labor congresses have been able to collect a list of rules, the delegate selection rules every four years going back to 1956. i just have all the text from them and you can do a text analysis from the computer program may cosign similarity but basically looking a word frequencies. the exact same words from year-to-year. they're completely different on 100% change. just examine how much change occurs from year to year. this is imperfect. this hasn't captured the substantive changes. it's more grammatical but it can still give us an idea of the extent of change going on. i find a lot more change than years than others. just looking at the top for
example 1956 democrats had nominated adlai stevenson. he goes on to lose to dwight eisenhower and they make some change in the rules after that, 10%. 1968 is a much bigger year for a change. that of course is the year famously contested nomination cycle really ugly convention in chicago for the democrats, really violent. one of their major candidate robert kennedy was assassinated that year and the party kind of lumped into the fall election and lost to richard nixon. they made a lot of changes to their rules after that year. that was where they started coming up with rules for how many women should be delegate, how many young people and also created some of the primary
caucus rules that we live under today. a very consequential year. on the other hand after 2000, after 2004, there were not many changes made to the rules. the party largely copied and pasted what he had done previously. 1988 comes up as a big year for change here at sort of a surprising one. it doesn't come up in many studies of consequential changes that year. part of what happened is they made a lot of changes about how the parties refuse state delegate selection rules and there is just a lot of tinkering with the proper wording about that. a lot of back-and-forth ended up resulting in quite a few different words even though wasn't very sensitive. i was curious what explains the years when they make a lot of change versus the years in which they make very few. one idea i had was maybe if they just lost very narrowly, and
maybe that means you don't need to make a lot of changes. for example in 2000, 2004, al gore won the popular vote, came very close to winning. maybe they look at those years and say that was very close. everything was taking on the edge. we can keep up were doing it for picking good people. on the other hand 196 he was close and they made a lot of changes that year. that doesn't necessarily tell us a whole lot. turns out what it does seem to matter is how divisive the nomination process is. so you know, if a lot of people within the party were really not very comfortable with the nominee they came up with come if the person on a hard time getting the nomination, you might see some changes. the way i was choosing to measure that was the share of the total primary vote that their nominee.. i measured this bbc like 1968,
hubert humphrey only god about 2% of the primary vote. you could do that back then. he really didn't participate in the primary. you could still become the nominee because primaries to determine who got delegates back then. but suggested a real problem because candidates were participating in primaries. gene mccarthy was running and winning son. and when the nomination goes to humphrey, a lot of people say that doesn't seem right. that doesn't seem fair. he had a real legitimacy problem going into the fall. similar problem in 72. 2000, 2004 people rally behind john kerry pretty early on, behind al gore. they didn't have a major problem getting their party behind it. so with the party is very
divided, as our nominee faces a legitimacy crisis, there's more of an effort to tinker with the rules the year after that. there's a problem with the nomination system. we had to fix that. which raises an interesting question what it means for this year. hillary clinton got a little over 50% of the primary vote, which would suggest a modest amount of change. remember, those 50% of the vote. that was a very lengthy primary and caucus process. it was very divisive. even going into the convention a lot of democrats who still didn't fully except she was the properly found nominee, but they were sort of lingering legitimacy problems and not even extended into the general election, which is a large part of what the party is still dealing with today and still very divided over.
we might see a good deal of change resulting from not. i wanted to jump over a little bit to some of the evidence i've been collecting dust in the interviews with political activists. this has been a fun part of the project i spent some time in early primary states. new hampshire, iowa, nevada, south carolina talking with people who are involved in democratic party politics for a long time, involved in the politics. i asked them a number of questions. one of which is why did he lose in 2016? i was curious what the reactions were. they have a lot of reasons. there is not really one consensus explanation at least when i was talking to them. quite a few people i spoke to focus on the campaign of. this is not necessarily one simple way. some people said well, the campaign was running a
sophisticated modern campaign, but just not very well. they sort of compared to the tightly scripted obama campaign from 08 and 12 saying the clinton folks just didn't have a quite down. when an iowa sent by the beginning of october you should not be talking to anyone who's in favor of the opposing. ..
>> you know, things that their data organization was missing in say, wisconsin, michigan, and in pennsylvania. but though they don't really say, you know, who those onto ground people were or they might have steered you in completely the wrong direction, but nonetheless, other people talked about the party's messaging. the campaign was plenty confident, but the problem was we simply had the wrong message that couldn't compete with the republicans well. person i spoke to in iowa said it pointed out trump as a terribly flawed position and it wasn't going after his relationships with wall street, it wasn't going after his shady
deals. and they weren't very inspiring and a number of people juxtaposed it with the trump mental, four simple words, make america great again. which they said, you know, regardless whether you like that message, it works as a message. it's very concise, it conveys a lot of meaning in those four words. people have an understanding where that goes to and they didn't think the democrats were really competitive on that level. i heard a very interested thing from a labor organizer in iowa, this was his message about messaging was, a lot of people said labor's message doesn't resonate. i would argue that's incorrect. our message was we need to get rid of bad trade deals. we had a candidate out there. the message was we into immediate to build our infrastructure, one candidate adopted that. we need decent jobs that pay decent wages, we had a candidate out there that said that. and he won, the messaging was
on topic. it was interesting speaking to an iowa labor person who basically said they're doing the same things, and the candidates kind of switched sides on them and kind of undermined them. other folks talked about what we might call today identity politics. identity politics is kind of this longstanding argument that the reason that democrats sometimes don't do well is because they're so fixated on catering to the needs of women, african-americans, latinos, the lbgt community, and not conveying a larger message that speaks to americans as a whole and that this somehow alienates white working class voters. and i heard this from a lot of folks, particularly in iowa. as one iowa political consultant told me, democrats should listen to more country music and they should be stop being so condescending. that's a democrat. another one told me listen to
your cousin jim that lives in rural iowa, a democrat who voted for trump. why did he do that. and another told, you've got to call out a racist when there's a racist. every time someone says something questionable, they are they think you're the boy who cried wolf. this sort of language wasn't unique to iowa, i probably heard it most there. but i had an interesting conversation with a woman in new hampshire who, longstanding feminist, longstanding hillary clinton supporter, really since 2006, and she told me based on what happened with hillary, i think we now need to nominate a man. barack obama's an incredibly strong man, you can't do what he did and not be a strong man, but he didn't project raging masculinity and i think you have to do that. i hate to say that. i'm going to get kicked out of the women's club. she did not want to go on the record. so there was that sort of
self-flangelation that i got from a number of people. some people talked about the candidates themselves, they said there were certain things that had to do just with hillary clinton or just with donald trump that explained the election outcome. a person in south carolina said, i love the lady, i really do, i'd jump off a building for, but, boy, she was not a very good candidate. another person an interesting comment, most people have run for city council, dog catcher, where you have to do the one-on-one on learn how to grovel and you come across it natural. and when you start at her level, people see that there's nothing there. so there's a narrative. overall, i figure-- i calculated about eight different reasons that people gave for the election's outcome. one of them was campaign activity, too much reliance on data, not enough, or something like that. some people talked about the campaign's messaging. maybe it was too simple, maybe not simple enough. people talked about the candidate traits, that clinton had some weaknesses or trump
had some gifts from underappreciated at the time. people talked about identity politics. somehow clinton had alienated the white working class. people also talked about certain exogenous factors. it was james comey's letter to congress two weeks before the election, or russian meddling. lingering effects of bernie sanders and his team undermining hillary clinton going into the fall or jill stein draws votes away from hillary clinton that otherwise would have gone the democrat's way. and people talked about persistent racism or sexism in the electorate or media coverage and some people just said there was something about the mood of the electorate. there was just something weird. and they have a hard time pinning it down, but said, it wasn't a normal election, there was something unusual going on. that tabulating all of this, you know, for the most part, people didn't offer just one explanation. most people offered at least two or three. campaign activity and messaging
and the candidate traits were by far the most popular explanations people offered. you know, the mood of the electorate, racism, sexism and other things were a little less common, but, again, there were a lot of different answers offered here. now, what i'm interested in tracking is figuring out how people go about settling on what this narrative was, if they can come up with one explanation. in margery hershey's words, she talked about initially there's a lot of explanations after the election and eventually is winnowed down to a handful of them and i'm curious to track this down. i would notice as they settle on a narrative, in some ways all of these narratives are wrong in that, you know, if you wanted me to, i could go through and debunk all of them. in some ways they're also right. this was a very close election. you know, you switch, 60, 70, 80,000 votes across a handful
of states and you've got a different president and the idea that maybe james comey's letter doesn't get released or maybe someone uses a slightly different campaign message, could you move 80,000 votes across four states? maybe. it's not completely crazy that one of these things made a difference or maybe they even all did, but whether they're wrong or wri right isn't so muc the focus, it ends up which one being believed and governs what the party does going forward. so far, some of my suggestions are that the party, you know, a lot of people's interpretation is based on who these people already are and what they already believed. a lot of folks who believe in an identity politics interpretation believe that beforehand, before the election. people who believe in one thing, you know, they continue to believe that and a really close election just reaffirms that whatever the party needs to do is what i've been saying the party should be doing for
my whole life. also, importantly, there's new information already coming in. the democrats were in a very low position at the end of 2016, but 2017 brought some different information. suddenly they were doing well in the off-cycle elections in new jersey and in virginia. they were doing well in the special elections for state legislature and congress. and they were winning occasionally with transgender candidates, with self-described socialist candidates and so, that information goes in to informing what this narrative is going forward. my conclusions are really te tentative so far, i'm in the middle of this process in the party. my book i'm working on i'll say is officially under contract with cambridge university press so watch for it on shelves in september 2020. so i hope to have more to say about this in the next two years, but basically i'll just note that we're catching the democratic party in the middle after really interesting
process in this interpretation. the party doesn't have to reach concensus. that election is coming whether they want it or not. or whether they've reached a decision or not. but that, you know, whatever that decision is is really important to informing who they nominate next time around. whatever they figure out their mistake was last time will inform who among the two or three dozen people they have to choose from for president next time around. thank you very much. [applaus [applause] >> and i'm happy to take some questions. >> thank you for your presentation. i wanted to maybe address the issue of political consultant, especially around secretary clinton's campaign. i noted, especially her history running in new york state for senator and then president, her
use of very expensive consultants and you know, how does that stack up against how the rank and file feels. you have some quote from a rank and file democrat in iowa about how the data was used, but simply on both parties have this sort of consultant class, and they make millions of dollars off these campaigns. and what influence do they have and should the parties start to stand up to them? thank you. >> that's an interesting question. thank you for that. and there's a fair amount of-- well, there's some literature on this on political consultants and political science. i've been thinking about this a lot over the years and trying to figure out exactly where do we consider them. there are some who consider them in ways, part of the party coalition and in some ways, they're almost even gate keepers to who gets the nomination. that is there's really only a handful of consultants out there who know how to run a national campaign and can
actually put one together and know, you know, can coordinate a campaign across all 50 states, plus all of these different election systems and know how to raise money and who the key donors are in the denver areas, and in some ways, that's sort of valuable that, you know, that you have this group of people who can say, this is not a serious candidate, this one is. but, yeah, they do have-- that does give them a lot of influence and yes, they do make a ton of money and they don't necessarily win or lose. i tend to think they're, you know, is one of the things after a party loses, after a candidate loses, people say, man, that was a waste of money and if they win, all sins are forgiven, pretty much. and i still think we don't have a fantastic sense of just how influential that work is, just how much that really mattered. i think you could look at-- you know, 2016 was actually a great example where if you knew
nothing about the candidates and nothing about the campaigns going into that, the-- all the economic forecast models just based on how the economy was doing, the fact that democrats had held the white house for two terms suggested it will be a close election, republicans will have a slight advantage. and that's what you get. and you know, does that mean that the candidates, the campaigns did nothing? does that mean they were really well matched and annihilated each other? i don't think we still have a great sense how influential they are, but, yeah, i'm still thinking about it, but, thank you. you. >> richard. >> i'm guessing that probably most of your conversations with probably fairly shortly after the election or in 2017? >> they were strung out over a little bit of time. some were early 2017 and some were much later in the year.
>> because i can see some of that in the campaigns that the democrats are running this year, that they're trying not to obsess over trump and, you know, you have sort of the conor lamb, doug jones, kind of bland white guy candidates doing well, but you're also on the other hand, you're seeing this tremendous wave of women candidates, and a lot of those explanations don't sound like they're at the front of democrats' heads right now. like i don't see a lot of them saying, oh, gosh, if only our candidates listened to country music more. you look at democrats they're more-- probably like an adult contemporary group rather than a country music group. a lot of suburban women who have done pretty well in life. so, i'm wondering if these explanations just going to fade away if democrats do well this fall or not? >> yeah, i mean, that's a great question. and that's something i hope to have more to say about as i go back and talk to these same
people. my impression is there is some variation with time, that that might be, you know, the idea that, you know, we need a bland older white guy. it might have been just an initial reaction and then that got tempered and other groups started to realert themselves. on the other hand, i think there's a lot of regional variation with that, that that might be something that resonates in a small white state like new hampshire or iowa that doesn't necessarily play in a heavily latino state like nevada or more african-american state like south carolina. so, it's something i'm trying to track and just looking at how those arguments manifest over time. but, yeah, i totally agree with you, that's not where-- it's certainly not where the national media coverage has been and it's not the general narrative you hear out of the more recent special elections. >> the most recent special elections are primaries and we
don't know the results of those choices that the primary voters have made. for example, the woman in the bronx and, yeah, and in vermont we had in tuesday. we don't know what the outcome of that's going to be. >> yes, yeah. so, some of this is, you know, some people are drawing lessons from like special elections or the off-year elections and some people are trying to learn from some of the primaries going on this year and i think you're right. like people have taken a lot of information from the ocasio-cortez, which is one race in a left-leaning district and you could nominate almost anyone and a democrat would win there. but nonetheless, people seem to be trying to draw a lot of lessons from that, even though you're correct, it is a prima primary. yes. >> can you identify the success
of the party, the success of its candidate, don't you occasionally have cases when candidates win and parties lose. independent of last year, 1952, for example, when eisenhower won with the republican party in some sense lost? how well aligned is a party's faith to align with the candidate's fate in general election? the primary can -- taft was kind of the party's choice-- >> and now, that's an interesting question and eisenhower is a great way of thinking about it. he's one of those, so i talked about, you know, the democrats being out of power for three terms in the 1980's and '90s. they were-- they seemed okay with trimming more and more of their ideological sails in order to win. republicans lost five straight presidential elections in the 1930's and 40's and by 1952
they were so hungry for a win they were like, they nominated eisenhower without knowing which member he was a party of it. and he's popular and then figure out what he stands for and see if we can get something out of it. yeah, there's a certain sense of-- i mean, i think they were happier winning that election than losing it, obviously, eisenhower appointed republicans to two important positions in the white house and the cabinet. but, yes, it's less of a win and i think if -- yeah, i would say generally and this is a reason that parties do attempt to coordinate and do attempt to kind of narrow voter's options a little bit, is to candidates who will deliver more on the policies that they care about. you don't see that many elections where an eisenhower type election where they'll literally nominate someone popular. i think, one i often use this
is arnold schwarzenegger's election as governor of california where he was way more liberal than most of the state's republicans and notably, only one in a very unusual type of election, a recall election that had no primary. he would have had a much harder time getting through a normal republican primary there. now, they were happier with him winning than not. you know, the republicans had a little more entry into the state government in power than with, say, gray davis continuing as governor. but, yes, it's a tempered victory. it's not everything they wanted. >> and so given that there's more information that's available to the parties and party activists about the outcome of election over time, for instance, the rise of exit polling, do you have a sense
that that at all affects the constructive narrative or the folks is not necessarily reading silver and this is what i saw and this is what happened and this is why. >> this is what i struggle with. reading through hershey's article and the interpretation of 1984 is really very fascinating. like, i was surprised how few people said this is an insane will i good economy, of course reagan won. that just seems like a no-brainer and that was really not the mindset back then. they were going all over the place with lots of different ideas. and it wasn't clear to me if they just-- if they're either economic indicators just weren't that great at that time or just weren't published as frequently as they are today or if people just didn't have as much of a sense of how to get good information. the newspapers just didn't report as much. obviously, you didn't have things like 538. you didn't have cnn, you didn't
have wall to wall coverage of these sort of political events and people were just sort of going with what they knew. i mean, my impression is that we have better information today, but obviously, that hasn't stopped people from coming up with lots of creative narratives that aren't necessarily well informed by the data. my impression is still that when people are settling on a narrative, you know, not only are they picking things that they're already more comfortable with, they have an agenda for that. if you want a certain part of the party to be more in power the second time around you'll pick a narrative that helps that and maybe you can pick and choose among the data that's available to do that. so, hopefully, we're making better decisions with all of these data, but i'm not going to say that 100%. >> can you talk a little bit about the changes in demographics and that impact on the election? i've heard a lot of people
attribute changes in demographics, both, age, race and regional distribution as to the results from 2016. i mean, if you're a campaign worker. you probably want to put as much emphasis on campaign work as possible. but what role did that play in 2016? what role do you see that playing in 2020? and how is that played out historically? >> i mean, demographic change is obviously a very important issue, and this is something, you know, certainly on the democratic side, that parties are trying to address and campaigns are trying to address, and particularly when they go into a district and interpret what happened in a state based on what happened in the last election or what happened two or three election cycles going. when some states profiles are change very, very rapidly and people move around. people move into a state, out
of a state. i get the impression that that's partially responsible for some people's surprise in 2016, that they, you know, they were caught off guard with how much states had changed or with, you know, the percentage of college educated people in the state or something like that. or how many people had moved out of a state. i think this is actually more of a question for democrats than republicans, just given the diversity of the coalition and the speed of the change. yeah, i think that's an important issue. sir, you had a hand over here? >> how well do you think the primary caucus system is working now days? there are those who argue that it takes too long or too many candidates. you have the party stalwarts are the ones who vote in these elections. that are there those who argue perhaps we should go back to the era when the party bosses choose the candidate at the conventions there by making the conventions more important.
do you see that as a role to reform the primary caucus system? >> there's-- i mean, there's differently some sort of reform? the dnc is going to be addressing this next week. there was a lot-- on the democratic side there was a fair amount of dissatisfaction with the number of presidential caucuses in the 2016 cycle and a few states, i think, colorado, maybe minnesota, nevada have moved away from caucuses and gone toward primaries. just generally seeing that, well, they're easier to participate in, more people show up for them. they're generally seeing a little more representative of the party's rank and file. the idea of moving back to conventions, to party bosses making these picks? first of all, that would be awesome, but i have a hard time making that argument. generally, you know, we've seen
the sort of steady trend, not so much a steady trend, mo morepunctuated trend. the voice of the rank and file becomes key for legitimacy. if you have an incisor-- insider of the party saying, then i don't see the party going in that direction. i could certainly see some tinkering around the edges with th this. >> what about twitter? is there any role for parties anymore?
is there any meaning to the term republican party? >> there are a lot of questions in that question, i think. [laughter] >> so on the sort of what about twitter thing, this goes back to the question. the authors of the book "the party decides" i mentioned, i was rereading an article they put out two years ago on essentially addressing the question, why they missed 2016. you know why donald trump got nominated even though he didn't seem to be the insider's choice by a long shot and one of the topics they discussed in there was that the-- the quote, unquote, invisible primary, that process long before the primaries and caucuses when party insiders sort of tossed around ideas about different candidates and their strengths, the invisible primary is a lot less invisible than it used to be. thanks to twitter and facebook
and youtube and a massive rise in primary debates and thanks to websites like 538 and vox, more coverage of this. a lot more people are in on this now. it's not a few hundred activists or a few hundred across country. you have hundreds of thousands paying attention and sometimes trying to influence them. the and the party winnowing the field, it's harder to coordinate and it's harder to come up with a nominee that people see as legitimate if that many people are sort of in on that process that used to be hidden. so, i think twitter has contributed to that in some important way and then, you know, we see in 2016, i think you had 16, 17 republican candidates all of whom had twitter accounts. some of them used it more aggressively than others, obviously. but that was part of the dialog
and it was, you know, part of the discussion amongst the candidates, amongst their campaigns, within the party. and it's very public. anyone can watch that happening and anyone can participate and anyone can just log in and yell at the candidates if they want to. the it didn't used to be that way and i think it's making coordination harder. i don't think that necessarily means there isn't a republican or a democratic party, but the parties haven't quite figured out how to address this issue yet, how to still coordinate when everything they're doing is really under klege lights and a magnifying class. >> i'll stop the conversation there. joining us, this gives me time to do a little thanks. i keep forgetting to thank the center that you represent here today. and our allies throughout this month's conversations about
politics and public policy. so i want to thank them very much over at library of congress, you are the chair of american law and government with the center at the library of congress. thank my colleagues, nolan and people throughout the society who have been included to help with the logistics of this larger than unusual-- usual turnout. please come back next week when laura blessing talks about the effects of the earmarks ban on congressional capacity. thanks again. [applause] . [inaudible conversations] >> the senate is gavelling in momentarily for debate on the nomination of marvin
quattlebaum to be a judge on the richmond based circuit court of appeals. confirmation vote at noon and following that to limit the debate on julius richardson for that same court. later today the senate expected to begin work on a $857 billion spending package that would combine the two largest annual appropriations bill, defense and labor, hhs and education. live senate coverage now here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray.