Monday, February 16, 2015

Why It's Going to Be Hard For the Republicans to Avoid Jeb Bush

Even though we're almost two full years away from the next Presidential election, we've already got Republicans jockeying for position in their party's not-even-close-to-happening primary season. The reasons for this are many--24-hour news networks start talking about the next election for the same reason that the NFL Network starts talking about the draft five minutes after the Superbowl ends, the sheer amount of money required these days means that you have to have your donors lined up months before actually campaigning, but a big part of it this time out is that Barack Obama isn't running again for fiddly legal reasons, and so these guys think they have a chance of winning. (Say what you will, but Obama was not a candidate that the Republican party wanted to tackle.)

So that means that there's a very crowded field, because a lot of these guys have been waiting a long time for their shot. Which means that each candidate needs to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, and that means they need to start campaigning early. So we've got Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker and Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie and Rand Paul and Rick Perry (did I miss any?) all trying to make headlines for themselves by visiting the primary states early and often and getting to know everybody there, and declarating their opinions all over the news like a cat marking his territory (except that you can probably distill something useful out of cat piss). And it's becoming clear to everyone concerned and most observers that Jeb Bush is slowly turning into the frontrunner.

This means, of course, that the knives are coming out for him. Because if there's one thing it's tough to be in a race this long, it's the wire-to-wire frontrunner. The earlier you emerge from the pack, the longer the other players have to drag you down. So we're already getting a lot of speeches from all concerned about how Jeb Bush is insufficiently right-wing, how he doesn't understand what motivates the modern Republican base, how he may in some way shape or form have expressed empathy for another human being in his know, deal-breakers. Basically, the rest of the field is going hard at Jeb Bush, and they probably won't stop.

But in this case, I'm not sure if it's going to matter, any more than it did for Mitt Romney. Because right now, the Lovecraftian Horror Show That Is the 2016 Republican Nomination Contest (TM) has a field that consists of a bunch of head-trauma patients and Jeb Bush. And, like with Mitt Romney, we're dealing with elementary game theory here--Jeb Bush has pretty much the entire non-head-trauma vote locked up, and while that's a depressingly small percentage of the Republican vote, the head-trauma vote is split between lots of candidates. And if Jeb Bush has twenty percent of the vote, but the eight other guys only have ten percent each, he wins.

Now, if some of the other guys dropped out, then it would spell trouble for Jeb. But each of the other guys know that if they stick with it and let everyone else drop out instead, they'll get all of the head-trauma vote and beat Jeb. Which means that none of them will drop out, which means that Jeb will keep trucking along with his twenty percent, and eventually take the nomination right out from under the noses of all those "true" conservatives who would make much more entertaining horror shows in the general election.

I don't think any of this matters, because I think that America wants to see another Bush in office like Germany wants to see a Chip Hitler candidacy, and Bush is the most electable out of the Lovecraftian Horror Show That Is the 2016 Republican Nomination Contest (TM). By far. But I do think that the coming primaries are going to be some of the most vicious and nasty infighting you'll see in a long time...and coming from the Republicans, that means something.


Eric TF Bat said...

So Clinton's a lock for 2016, you reckon?

John Seavey said...

I wouldn't go that far, but she has managed to push the obvious rivals off her patch in a way that none of the Republicans are strong enough to do right now to Jeb. Someone might emerge as a contender, like Obama did in '08, but they're not doing so now.