Sabato’s Crystal Ball: THE REPUBLICAN RIDDLE
Over the decades the Republican Party has secured a reputation as the orderly bunch in our (mainly) two-party system. Its members like to have a designated successor in the White House wings, someone who has worked his way up and deserves the nod. Let the Democrats roam the countryside looking for an antiestablishment maverick, under whose standard they will probably lose. The GOP, the managerial party drawn disproportionately from the organized business class, has learned the importance of a tidy succession in the corporate board room. The king is dead; long live the king; let the crown prince reign!
Have we exaggerated history a bit? Of course. In major surprises, the Republicans picked insurgent Wendell Willkie in 1940 (can a Wall Street executive really qualify as an insurgent?) and “bombs-away” Barry Goldwater in 1964. Both lost rather badly, and unlike the Democrats–who repeat their mistakes with greater frequency–the Republicans learned quickly that bomb-throwing of any kind on the campaign trail is usually a ticket to oblivion.
In any event, the mainly winning Republican crown-prince model is off the table for 2008, yet another unfortunate (for the GOP) by-product of a deeply unpopular President Bush and his wholly owned subsidiary–the Vietnam-without-the-jungle called Iraq.