Sunday, July 11, 2010

Who knows what's in Sarah Palin's head?

Salon has posted a story from Jonathan Bernstein's blog, "What we do (and don't) know about Sarah Palin and 2012."

Bernstein begins:

Andrew Sullivan has a good roundup of some of the recent punditry about Sarah Palin and the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. I've given my position before: Anyone who thinks she has it locked up is nuts, and anyone who thinks that there's zero possibility of her winning is also nuts. But that does raise the question: What can we know now? What should we ignore? And by the way, how does the nomination process work, anyhow?

He goes on to offer five interesting thoughts about Palin/2012 and recommends ignoring anyone who claims to know what Palin will do. Then he concludes by describing the nominating process:

Now, bonus content: Presidential Nomination Process 101. I said that nominations are controlled by "party leaders." That does not mean that a handful of people sit down in a room in Washington and dictate the nomination. What it means is that quite a few people, including the leaders of party-aligned interest groups, local and state party leaders, big donors, opinion leaders, major politicians at the state and national levels, and ordinary activists, collectively try to come to a decision. The role of the voters over the last couple of decades has been three things. First, and most basically, voters ratify the decisions of party leaders. Second, in cases in which party leaders split, voters may determine the outcome. And, third, it appears that party leaders sometimes use voters in the early primaries and caucuses to test how a candidate they are considering supporting will play with the electorate. So Howard Dean failed that test in Iowa in 2004, while Barack Obama passed it in 2008. Those insiders narrow down the field during the "invisible primary" -- hey, wait, that's happening right now! That's why, for example, by the time the voters started choosing in 2008 such reasonable-on-paper candidates as Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson were reduced to asterisks; they had already been winnowed out before anyone even voted.

OK, that's what we do know. What we -- that is, what political scientists -- don't really know is which party leaders are the most influential in any one party at any one time. We're much better at figuring that sort of thing out after the fact. So there's plenty of scope for good reporting, especially over the next year or so when things are beginning to matter. Things such as the National Journal's insiders poll are helpful; campaign finance reports will start being helpful; endorsements are helpful. But it's also helpful to poke around aggressively to find out which interest group leaders are thought of as serious players and which are resting on their reputations; which state and local party people carry resources with their endorsements; which Washingtonians are really plugged in to conservative networks, and which are just repeating stale conventional wisdom. Good reporters can get to that kind of stuff as it's happening. So my advice is to pay attention to reporters and pundits who seem to know what they're talking about when it comes to the Republican Party network, and less attention to those who think they know what's in Sarah Palin's head.

Jonathan Bernstein's post originally appeared, here, in his A plain blog about politics.


Joie Vouet said...

Is it alright to claim that Sarah Palin doesn't know what she's going to do?

Joie Vouet said...

National Journal's Insiders Poll

Joie Vouet said...

Could anyone argue that voters really do choose the nominees? In either or both parties? Papers are due in fifty minutes. (just kidding)

womanwithsardinecan said...

As a Californian who has watched viable candidates concede before the California primary, I agree with his thesis. I also think that the mostly uninformed electorate is highly manipulated leading up to the main election too. We need to stop being such chumps. All this take back America crap is just that, unless we are talking about taking it back from special interests and highly paid consultants with money to burn.

womanwithsardinecan said...

BTW, I was surprised and flattered to see my blog on your blogroll. (Walkaboutstory). Thanks for the exposure.

Anonymous said...

In response to:
"Joie Vouet said...
Is it alright to claim that Sarah Palin doesn't know what she's going to do?"

The problem is not that "Palin doesn't know what she's going to do?"

The problem is "Palin doesn't know what she is doing" and that is why she had to quit as governor! Our town had little debt until Palin decided to build a hockey rink in the middle of the boonies on property belonging to another person and ended up paying more for the land than what it was worth. Just a plain imbecile! To cover for idiotic decisions, Palin had to hire high school buddies and cronies into political office so that they won't tell on her and they could cover for her. That is Palin's legacy besides that vp fiasco and her current short coming where she won't talk to real news people and hides behind twitter and facebook.

Joie Vouet said...

womanwithsardinecan, I enjoy your photos. Thanks for posting them.


I'm beginning to think that voters might come close to deciding the nominees if everyone voted in a nationwide primary and there weren't anything like superdelegates. Now, party officials can do things with the rules that could help/hurt Palin: scheduling and sequence of primaries ... winner take all vs. proportionate award of delegates, etc. I am not sure that she's aware of these organizational things.