48 Comments
author

Hey sorry all, I didn't mean to have comments off. (This is probably the *least* spicy take I've published here in a while, TBH.) On now.

Expand full comment

The least surprising way for Trump not to be nominated is for him to be dead by the convention. That’s not very likely, but it wouldn’t cause me to rethink how the world works, y’know? He’s old and unhealthy, stuff happens.

If he’s still alive next August and someone else is the R nominee, something really weird has gone down

Expand full comment

One wild card not mentioned- Haley is from South Carolina, a state that seemingly wouldn't be a good fit for her "lane" in the primary but one that has deep connections with her. If she wins NH and SC, you'd have a real competition.

Expand full comment

The Republican primary is sort of unusual this year. Trump can only serve one term so coming in second - positioning for the next election - should be a bigger prize than in a typical "open" primary. And more interesting than a "race for second place" normally would be.

Expand full comment

“Haley has a strong electability argument — with high-quality polls often showing her trouncing Biden”

—Nate has had this fixed idea for a while, but it isn't really true. There are lots of polls showing that Haley performs worse against Biden than Trump does. Her electability argument is weak at best, and relies totally on the false premiss that the media would treat her just as gently as an actual Republican nominee as they are treating her now as an anti-Trump avatar.

Expand full comment

I’m sorry, I’m really sorry but who cares about Nikki Haley? If it wasn’t for the RINO wealthy class Haley wouldn’t even be on the ballot. But ok sure, let’s pretend real MAGA people are going to vote for her instead of Trump.

Expand full comment

I agree Haley faces the steepest of uphill struggles. I'll call her odds of taking the nomination 5%. But what does the world where that 5% shot becomes reality look like? I'd argue there's some danger to Haley in peaking too early, and that her best outcome is to soundly beat expectations in NH, no matter what those expectations have become. Doesn't doesn't necessarily mean winning outright in that state. It probably means a scenario where she's, say, twelve points behind Trump in the final NH polls, and ends up losing by only three points. Something like that. I think she'd then have serious momentum coming out of the Granite State. (And sure, being behind Trump in NH by 10-12 points in the polls and then winning by a few points also works.)

The scenario whereby she's picked up a big head of steam heading into NH—and lots of people are asking: "Can she actually beat Trump?" — and she does so—doesn't put her in the catbird seat, I'd argue, unless she absolutely crushes him. But that doesn't seem plausible. A four or five point win over Trump when a lot of people are thinking you might well win isn't a game-changer.

And in any event Haley absolutely needs DeSantis's campaign to well and truly implode. If he maintains some viability and relegates Haley to third place in Iowa, it's over for Nikki, I fear. She doesn't need it to be a two person race coming out of New Hampshire. She needs it to be a two person race *heading into* New Hampshire.

Expand full comment

Stop calling them “false claims” please. The truth of the 2020 election lies somewhere along a continuum, not in one side’s back pocket.

Expand full comment

How current/predictive in primaries are the geo-segmentations of the US articulated in books like Albion's Seed or American Nations? And if yes, it would seem like maybe Nikki is limited to Yankeedom.

Expand full comment

Early primary states do not determine the eventual winner.

Instead, they winnow out candidates who have no chance of winning and narrow the field to 2-3 competitive candidates for later primaries.

Then the winner typically emerges in the next few weeks by winning many big primaries.

Expand full comment

“We’ve reached the point where the nominee being someone other than Trump would be perhaps the most surprising development in the history of the presidential primaries.”

I strongly disagree. This cycle is different. Trump is facing 90 felony charges. That is unprecedented. Both of the candidates are historically old. I’m not sure previous models hold that much water at this point. Nate’s old model might hold up in the weeks before the election, but there are few good precedents for the present situation.

Expand full comment

"the nominee being someone other than Trump would be perhaps the most surprising development in the history of the presidential primaries."

Point taken and overall like the analysis, but I'm inclined to offer RFK's assassination as a more surprising event. Particularly an assassination by, of all things, a Palestinian Christian belonging to a Rosicrucian organization. I don't think many people had that on their bingo cards in 1968.

Though my understanding is that, contra the narrative most often remembered, Humphrey was favored (albeit not assured) to beat RFK for the nomination at the time of RFK's death.

Expand full comment

I think that Haley is a candidate for a second, but I don’t really know if I’d say that she’d be a strong contender for 2028 or not. 2028 will probably be the most unpredictable primary since 2016 for the GOP, unless Trump loses or runs again or something.

Expand full comment

Nate wasn't Clinton a heavy front-runner vs Obama for the 2008 Dem nomination? (I think ~20pts ahead in avg of national polls at this point in the cycle?) Just curious if there's a reason you didn't mention that particular race.

Expand full comment

Nate, just curiously, what do you think of the odds of Biden winning the primary but dropping out before the convention. If Trump's numbers in swing states continue to hold, do you think this could actually happen, or is this just a media / progressive pipe dream?

Expand full comment

The reality is being the leader of the pack in the year before the actual nominating contests probably is a negative. The optimal position is to be running somewhat under the radar like Biden and Obama or to be seen as a joke like Trump. The leader just draws too much fire and their negatives end up getting jacked up.

Expand full comment