Excellent reporting from Aaron Blake, who notices that all seven of the candidates that Bill Clinton has endorsed in Democratic primaries this year supported Hillary Clinton in 2008, while in six cases their opponents endorsed Barack Obama.
Blake ends the piece by framing it around the question of how important Clinton's endorsement might be, but what I find far more interesting is whether we're seeing the beginnings of a more enduring factional split or not. I've done some research (with Casey Dominguez) that sort of touches on questions of factions within the Democratic Party, using data from way back in 2000...we were interested then, among other things, whether DLC involvement was relevant to the Gore/Bradley choice. The whole question of party faction, however, is still a fairly obscure one as far as I know, especially in the US context (explicit, well-organized factions have been important in some other democracies, but they don't really happen here). So the question I'd have is: could something that begins essentially as a personal faction in presidential politics wind up getting institutionalized and spread to state and local politics? If so, would it eventually develop policy components -- even though the original split didn't really have any?
My guess is that the answers to these questions is that on a theoretical level, this could happen. But in the present Democratic Party, it's very unlikely. Both of those, however, are just guesses...anyway, if you want to know what I find really interesting, it's this sort of thing. I'll almost certainly be looking out for it when the 2016 invisible primary gets underway (which, of course, isn't all that long from now).
Oh, and: great catch!
Has there been any research on how inter-party competition affects factionalism? Maybe extremely close elections and/or very polarized parties tends to reduce factionalism, but I haven't read much about it.ReplyDelete
Paging Matthew Shugart! I'm afraid I just don't know the comparative parties literature well enough to answer that. I should, and I have read some of the factions stuff, but I didn't retain it very well as it didn't seem all that relevant to US parties (yes, I know, I shouldn't be like that...).Delete
Cool finding! Same thing in 2010, when Bill Clinton backed Andrew Romanoff (an HRC backer in '08) for Senate against Michael Bennet (an Obama '08 backer). I'm not sure in how many other races that pattern showed up.ReplyDelete
explicit, well-organized factions have been important in some other democracies, but they don't really happen hereReplyDelete
Is that really true? I feel as though one can see a pretty clear factionalization of the Republican Party during the New Deal and Post War era, wherever you have a conservative wing in the Midwest and a more liberal wing in the Northeast. There were Wet and Dry factions within the Democratic Party during prohibition, which hated each other to the point that the first two Democratic conventions in that era were total fiascos. Earlier, the Democrats were split between a free silver/populist faction around Bryan and a conservative "Bourbon" faction. The Republicans in the same era became split into progressive and conservative factions.
And there's plenty of examples of party factions within states. The various Southern Democratic state parties were typically split into factions.
And in the second party system before the Civil War, party factions were really common - Barnburners and Hunkers in the New York Democratic Party (and then the Hunkers later split into Hardshell and Softshell factions); Silvery Gray and Sewardite Whigs in the same state; Conscience and Cotton Whigs in Massachusetts; and so forth. These factions often roughly aligned with national party divisions - for example, the Barnburners tended to become anti-Nebraska Democrats, the Softshell Hunkers were Douglasites, and the Hardshell Hunkers were doughface pro-Southerners; the Silvery Gray and Cotton Whigs backed Fillmore in 1852 and tended to remain Whigs or become Know Nothings or Democrats as the Whigs collapsed; the Sewardites and conscience Whigs went over to the Republicans; and so forth.
I think this has become much, much less common largely as a result of the increasing importance of primary elections, which give party leaders much less direct power.
I have some quibbles, but on the whole -- yes, that's a fair point. The main quibble is that I don't think that the geographic splits in the national parties post-reconstruction are quite the same thing...the "national parties" of that era (up to the 1960s or 1970s or so) aren't really organizations; they're loose coalitions of various state and local parties. So they sort of can't quite have the kinds of organized factions within a single organization I was thinking about, if that makes sense.
It seems a ridiculous claim if you think about it - Clinton is going to endorse people he knows, and people he knew were more likely to also support Hillary. In the end, there was a 50-50 chance of anyone supporting Hillary or Barack. That the ones that supported Hillary also are the ones that Clinton may endorse? Not surprising at all.ReplyDelete
It isn't anything about a faction, it's about who knows who. You endorse who you know.
There's just not there here.
I disagree. On the one hand, I suspect that WJC knows lots of people on both sides of most of these contests. On the other...so what if it's not surprising? It still doesn't have to be that way, so if it is then we have something.Delete