7 - Parties, Factions, and Populism
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 March 2023
The standard explanation for Trump’s 2016 victory is that it was the culmination of a long-term right-wing capture of the Republican Party. However, in 2016, the most consistently right-wing candidate was Ted Cruz. Trump was unusual in that he was the candidate of no faction. Rather, Trump’s low-cost populist strategy, in which he relied on mass rallies and social media, was effective because the factions who backed his opponents could not coalesce to keep him out. Trump won the GOP primary with an historically low share of the vote. This chapter also shows that Trump was not the first to successfully pursue such a strategy. In the wake of the reforms of the early 1970s, a little-known Jimmy Carter was similarly able to capture the Democratic nomination in 1976 on the basis of a low-cost direct-communication strategy. The Democratic Party adapted then to keep future populists out. Whether the Republican Party will do so after Trump remains unclear.
- Why Populism?Political Strategy from Ancient Greece to the Present, pp. 199 - 217Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2023