Isolation, Ideology, & Fungibility: Tracing Convergence in the 2012 Republican Primary
Cook, Anne Bennett
Elections are nonlinear and consist of a series of people, companies, organizations, and money that constantly interact with and adapt to one another as circumstances change and coevolve. The political network in the 2012 Republican Primary was extremely complex, with numerous divisive issues and a general lack of agreement among candidates. It begs the question: How could the support bases of the original Republican candidates come to consensus and converge behind the candidate that was eventually chosen to represent the Republican Party, given the complexity of relationships and widely differing ideologies of the Republican base? By using social network analysis to examine the structure of two different politically oriented networks, staff and donors, this thesis explores whether network structure led to convergence behind one candidate. It concludes that lack of convergence and a dearth of cross-cutting ties in the Romney campaign could explain why the Republican voter base lacked passion and the requisite ground support needed to prevail in the general election. In other words, regardless of financial contributions, if there is no ideological convergence, the "Last Man Standing" may very well not win - even against an unpopular incumbent.
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