You know, the concept of viability comes up every day in life. Is is viable to merge these two companies? Let’s see. Look at the profit and loss sheets, cash on hand, market share, the marketing and management styles of the two groups, and make a calculated guess as to how natural the fit is.
Is my team viable to go to the Super Bowl? Look at their record, their remaining opponents, are the games home or away, what are the records of the remaining opponents. Then make a calculated guess, that’s what odds makers in Las Vegas do every day.
But the concept of viability in politics is unique, simply because politics itself is nothing more or less than a concept. The only product that politicians produce is, at best, hot air. And the only games that politicians play are casino games with our money. It is difficult to assess the viability of an idea, simply because so many unknown variables are at play, with nothing concrete to base them on, and people have different opinions on the idea.
A few days ago I wrote an article on my first impressions on the then incomplete numbers from the Iowa caucuses. In that article, I asserted that with his showing, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was certainly viable going forward into New Hampshire and Nevada, and gave examples why I thought so. One of my readers raised the very valid point in the comments that while Mayor Pete may be viable in Iowa, he wasn’t yet viable nationally. Good point.
When Mayor Pete joined the race, he was widely considered to be almost a curiosity candidate, like Andrew Yang, or the crazy bead lady from Michigan. A Midwestern state mayor of a town of 100,000 going up against national powerhouses like Biden, Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar. No national name recognition, no donor base, no ground organization. Odds makers put those candidates in the same silo as Seabiscuit.
Now, let’s try a simple experiment. Let’s say that the Iowa Caucuses showed Biden in 1st place with 26%, Sanders with 25, Warren with 18, and Buttigieg with 16. Right now pundits would be talking about Biden storming into New Hampshire on his strong performance in Iowa, and foretelling the possible death knell for Buttigirg’s fledgling campaign with another poor performance in New Hampshire. The only thing that I changed in the above scenario was to reverse the positions of Biden and Buttigieg. But in reality, Buttigieg picked up 4 points overnight in New Hampshire polling, before an Iowa vote had even been officially tallied and released, and pundits are questioning whether or not Biden can survive to his South Carolina firewall with another couple of poor performances. That’s viability in an environment with no concrete measuring anchors.
What is viability in politics anyway? Simply put, it means, can you actually get elected? And what measures viability in politics? When enough people give your name in a poll, ior enough people show up and check a box for you in a cardboard booth, then you’re viable, it’s just that simple. And mark my words, if Sanders and Buttigieg replicate their Iowa performances in New Hampshire, I guarantee you Buttigieg will be viable, because this race is different because there are two very separate and distinct lanes, the Far Left lane, and the Moderate Progressive lane. And if Sanders and Buttigieg come out of New Hampshire with significant leads over Warren and Biden for the second straight time, then they are going to be seen as the two front runners in a two horse race, and their lane mates are going to have to catch up with them.
And now a word on my reader’s comment on Buttigieg’s national viability. That view was perfectly applicable 6 months ago, but not anymore, and here’s why. Polling is expensive, even for a university with a poli-sci program to do. Nobody was going to spend that kind of money on individual state polling 6 months before the first primary, with the possible exceptions of Iowa and New Hampshire. News outlets, organizations, and even universities do national polling all the time, on a wide variety of topics. Hence, it was easy for them to include a question on Democratic Presidential preference, and give the country a snapshot of opinion at that time. But from here on out, you’ll see less and less national polling on the Democratic primaries, simply because there will be plenty of polling coming from the next two states up on the calendar. From here on out, movement up and down in the polls of the next upcoming primary states are going to be your best bet for determining momentum and viability.
So, there you have it. Assessing viability is always tricky, due to the unknown variables that can intervene. But it’s even harder in politics, because there is nothing concrete to base the opinion on, it’s all conceptual in the voters minds. But now that the primaries are actually underway, it can be easier to do, simply because the voters are now much closer to actually having to make up their minds than they were six months ago. And when we actually get results, then those at least are concrete. Sit back and enjoy the fun.
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen