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Jonathan Bernstein

My Mea Culpa on Trump Is Different

The Republican candidate rewrites the textbook on political parties.
The voters decided. Imagine that.

The voters decided. Imagine that.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Political scientists are going to be busy for years figuring out what happened in the 2016 Republican presidential race. But I'll try to deliver a nutshell version of what I think happened and how I, like many others, got it so wrong. 

The “party chooses” idea in political science basically makes two claims about the nomination process: That party actors will converge on a single candidate, and that they will exert sufficient influence over voters in primaries and caucuses to push this candidate to victory. In my view, the first part worked out normally this year, but the second part was a total flop.