GOP Primary Mirrors the Fight for the Direction of the Democratic Party in 2004

The 2012 presidential nomination battle, in addition to potentially picking the next president of the United States, provides a window into the transition of the Republican Party and, more broadly, social categories in our country.

There have been two critical dynamics: The first is a rejection by the broader conservative grassroots of the moderate or establishment of the party. In this election, the establishment is embodied by Mitt Romney, the CEO/Governor candidate who is the son of another CEO/Governor who ran for president from the moderate side of the party. In many ways, the Tea Party phenomenon has been as much a rejection of the establishment of the GOP as much as it has been critical of President Barack Obama. I want to pick up on this thread a little later because it makes the most important backdrop for historical comparisons of this cycle.

However, when you look at these historical analogies, they happen primarily in congressional mid-term elections, not presidential elections. There are several reasons for this. The most notable is that a candidacy for president requires building large organizations for both money and ground-organizing. Without building deep organizations, campaigns have trouble with basic mechanics like getting on ballots; witness the struggles of Gingrich and Perry in my state of Virginia.

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