Extremism vs Electability in the GOP Primary
Electability is likely to be the dominant issue in the GOP primary, Haley's campaign shows why its an absurd proposition
I have no idea why Nikki Haley is running for President. And based on her first week on the campaign trail, neither does she. When asked why she should be President, Haley answered, “why not me?”
The former South Carolina Governor turned Trump Cabinet member’s announcement speech was a Cheesecake Factory’s menu worth of cliches, focus-grouped pablum, and circular arguments. Haley is simultaneously running on a platform of representing generational change, being a trailblazer, a loyal Trump soldier, a Trump critic, and a winning candidate. Why pick one lane when you can randomly swerve across all of them? Despite what Aaron Sorkin would have you believe, it takes more than a slogan that fits on a napkin.
Okay, rant over. As you can probably tell, I am professionally offended by the lack of thought put into Haley’s decision to run for the most powerful office in the world. If she had a rationale for her run, it is the spurious idea that she is more electable than the rest of the field. In her announcement speech, Haley said:
I have a particular message for my fellow Republicans: we’ve lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. Our cause is right, but we have failed to win the confidence of a majority of Americans. Well, that ends today. If you’re tired of losing, put your trust in a new generation. And if you want to win — not just as a party, but as a country — stand with me.
Much like in the 2020 Democratic Primary, questions of electability are likely to dominate the upcoming Republican Primary. Electability usually rises to the top when a party picks the candidate to take on the sitting President. Nearly every conversation I had about a candidate in 2020 ended with the question, “Yeah, but they can beat Trump?” For the Republicans, the specter of electability is most relevant because the frontrunner for the nomination is also one of a small handful who lost reelection.
The problem for Nikki Haley is that her electability argument (like the rest of her arguments) makes no sense. It may also be impossible for anyone to make it through the GOP primary without becoming significantly less electable.
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