Often in political campaigns, political scientists wonder and theorize factors that allow certain individuals to win and become president. Political scientists over several decades and a few centuries completed thought experiments and research subjects that large influence on the election process. Marty Cohen, David Karol, Hans Noel, and John Zaller, writers of The Party Decides, believed that high ranking officials inside each party decide which candidate represent their party in the presidential race.
Their study focused primarily on specific tasks and duties officials had to do to move up in ranks inside their political parties, but the authors of The Party Decides fail to take into account how important social media will become modern campaign races. During the time The Party Decides was written, societies in America in the early 2000s was just beginning to scratch the surface with usages for social media. Although the book is gradually losing touch with today’s society, the literature offers insight into how campaigns were structured and won in the past.
One powerful way politicians racked up points and endorsements from their party came through candidates aligning their platform with the ideals and issues of their parties’. Often, when party leaders looking for who to throw their support behind, they evaluate who they trust to work with the party to help pass bills. There are ways candidates can prove their loyalty to the party such as through voting on issues on the same side as their fellow party members to demonstrate solidarity. The Party Decides provides Walter Mondale, the vice president to the former president Jimmy Carter, as an example for who party leaders would want to elect.
Specifically, The Party Decides states, “Mondale courted established party groups who supported him on the basis of long and faithful service to their causes. These groups were so much part of the Democratic establishment that they could change the rules to make Mondale’s nomination more likely. Mondale’s ability to garner support from leading black politicians is an indication of the breadth of his insider support” (Cohen, Karol, Noel, and Zaller, 202). Mondale’s years of supporting his parties’ issues aided in his fellow Democratic members’ decision to put their support behind him at the time.
Mondale most likely had the support of his fellow party members because they view him as a party insider the members could trust. Also, ‘Mondale ability to obtain support from varies communities shown that the candidate can unify the party rather than divide the party into fractions. Party insiders look for individuals who can unite fellow member because the candidate will have a strong support in the national elections. To some extent, this would explain the 2016 Presidential race, where Hilary Clinton have more support backing her than Donald Trump.
Both, Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump ran tightly contested so far to get them to the final leg of the race. In order to get to where they are now as nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, both candidates had to show their parties they are able to represent the communities that supported their parties through endorsements. As the writers of The Party Decides puts it, “If competitors are fishing in something as big as an ocean, and if the number of fish they catch depends on their skill in manipulating the fish to take their bait, the contest would properly be called fisherman-centered.
But suppose that competitors are fishing in a small pond having only a few fish. And suppose each fish carefully examines each fisherman’s bait and deliberates with other fish about whose bait to take. One would call this a fish-centered contest, since the fish are fishermen might be trying just as hard as in the first scenario, but the fish would be in control” (Cohen, Karol, Noel, and Zaller, 191). The fish-centered explains more Clinton title of Democratic Nominee because the former senator had a larger number of delegates supporting than Bernie Sanders.
The party insiders must have debated with each other to come to a decision on who to throw their support behind her. The same theory cannot be use to describe how Trump can to the title of Republican Nominee because his strategy for running his campaign is vastly different from any politician who became before him and his boast of his endorsements is another example of why. Trump ran his campaign similar to the theory of ‘fisherman-centered through the use of his rhetoric the Republican Nominee was able to gain support moving forward on the campaign trail.
Trump’s persuasive diction is a clear example of how he attracted the fish’ to come to him. Although Trump’s choice of words clearly had an impact on his nomination, social media help as well to aid his nomination. The amount of air time Donald Trump received on the campaign may have been more than most candidates experience during their campaigns. Donald Trump’s face was consistently on the minds of millions because of the news and most social media platforms. This allowed people to have easy access to information on where Trump stands on many issues and what policies he wants to implement.
Interesting to note, a political researcher by the name of James N. Druckman, wrote a paper on the effects of image by the medium television and how people’s mentalities shifts. In the results section of his paper, he said, “Notably, the increased impact of image among television viewers overwhelmed the issues effect; issue agreement remains a significant factor for audio listeners but not television viewers. This resonates with research suggesting that television amplifies the impact of image at the expense of issues” (Druckman, 9).
Druckman’s statement is interesting for the fact that Trump’s campaign did not start focusing on issues until close to the end of the campaign race. Although the research was done over two decades, much of the information in the paper is still relevant to this today. Just as John F. Kennedy appeal to all those people years ago on television, Trump is appealing to voters today largely on his image. Based on what we know today, party insiders are not the ones who have an input on who become the nominee of a party.
The literature of The Party Decides is rich in content on how campaigns were in structured in the past; however, in the everchanging world of today’s society, the work begins to lose touch with the times. Nonetheless, the book presses on issues such as insiders continue to hold meaning in our current society. Individuals such as Donald Trump are currently outliers on how to run a campaign, but some day that may become the norm only time with tell. As humans and technology continue to advance, the usage of devices to stay in touch with social media