I’m Sasha Issenberg, normally the author of leisurely pieces here at Slate about the science of campaigns under the Victory Lab flag. (My book on the subject, The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, will be out in September — but never too early to pre-order.) I apologize in advance for my physiological inability to keep up with Weigel’s blogging metabolism over the next month as Dave steps away to tend to other projects for a month.
It feels somehow auspicious to be joining the blogosphere the same week as an impressive trifecta of political scientists who will devote their new Mischiefs of Faction to the compelling and generally undercovered subject of political parties: Georgetown’s Hans Noel (author of the The Party Decides, which you should have been reading this winter), the University of Denver’s Seth Masket, and the University of Miami’s Gregory Koger.
Masket’s maiden post, nicely timed to the day Mitt Romney clinched the nomination, offers a compelling twist on the question of how inevitable that outcome was. While many have concluded that Romney managed to win despite being a flip-flopper, Masket argues it could have turned out no other way:
No one taking the stances Romney needed to take to win this year could have had the sort of résumé needed to be a typical major party nominee. The Republican Party has been moving to the right very quickly in recent years. Almost no one taking the stances that Romney is taking now could have been elected as a senator or a governor from most states just a few years ago. So, if you were consistently conservative (like, say, Bachmann or Santorum), you were either doomed to service in the House or to being kicked out of the Senate. If you had a presidential résumé, conversely, it was probably because your views were pretty moderate a few years ago. Arguably, the only person who can get nominated in the current Republican Party is someone who has pivoted to the right rapidly in the past decade. Rapid polarization makes flip-flopping a necessity.
Pay them a courtesy call in one of the hours when Jeremy Stahl and I fail to produce new content at a Weigel-like clip.