As the 2016 election approaches and the question of whether or not Hillary Clinton runs becomes an even bigger topic of discussion among the punditry, it is likely that we will also be told that having a clear nominee early in the process, rather than a hard fought, and potentially nasty, campaign for the nomination will be good for the party. This idea is intuitively appealing as contested primaries can make it hard to unite behind one candidate in the general election and can damage the eventual nominee. It is additionally something that we frequently hear from front-runners hoping to avoid a tough primary. This idea is intuitive and attractive, but it should be noted that it also completely false.
The news this week about the Department of Justice looking at the phone logs of journalists covering the White House, and of the IRS scrutinizing the tax returns of various right-wing groups, is bad for the Obama administration. They are also much more likely to stick than the Benghazi story. The Justice Department and IRS stories make the administration look almost like a branch of the Obama campaign, putting their ample resources behind efforts to harass, or at least gather information, about the Obama administration. In a comparative sense, these are not as serious as Watergate, domestic surveillance during the Nixon administration, or Iran-Contra, but they have the potential to be solid b-level scandals, too small to bring down a president, but big enough to accelerate that second term president's lame duck status.
In the aftermath of the election, the notion that the Republican Party was facing what might delicately be called an uphill demographic battle was frequently raised. This was made evident by the age and ethnicity demographics in the U.S., and by President Obama's decisive victory in his bid for reelection. Since the election, the Republican Party's demographic problem has manifested itself in another significant way. Because of their narrow demographic and ideological base, the Republican Party and its leadership, inside and outside of congress, has proven itself to be increasingly out of touch with the citizenry it seeks to govern.