“Negative partisanship” rules

“Negative partisanship” rules. By Daniel McCarthy, the Speaker of the US House of Reps.

“Negative partisanship” is a notorious feature of American politics. In presidential elections especially, voters don’t vote for the party and candidate they like; they vote against the party and candidate they fear. This is one reason third-party politics is a waste of time. If voters want to prevent the worst outcome, they will always choose the most viable alternative over the best alternative.

For Joe Biden in 2020, it was enough that he wasn’t Donald Trump. For Trump in 2016, it was enough that he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. Next year, we’ll find out whether the voting public now views Biden as more like Clinton or still considers him better than Trump. …

McCarthy pretends not to notice the Tea Party/MAGA third party in US politics:

At the presidential level negative partisanship within a party seems to take the form of nominating candidates who are not beloved by ideologues. The GOP nominates trimmers, not ultra-Reaganites, and Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, not Bernie Sanders. …

Each party’s nominees pay at least lip service to the principles of the ideological left or right. But to judge a tree by its fruit, one would have to conclude that Republicans don’t like conservatives all that much — indeed, Trump’s success in running against the Republican establishment suggests Republicans don’t even like the Republican Party.

Which is exactly what negative partisanship would lead you to expect. Republicans don’t love the Republican Party; they fear and loathe the Democrats. Donald Trump’s personal brand is more popular within the GOP than the party’s own brand, or conservatism’s. An anti-Democrat, somewhat anti-Republican and not consistently conservative candidate may be exactly what GOP voters want.

Negative partisanship rules much of the time. We are in such a time now. The left is currently unacceptably unreal and radical, while the pro-left media preaches that anyone who opposes the left is deplorable.

Possibly related: