Chuck Todd: The party divided will not stand

A basic rule of politics says that the more divided team loses more than it wins. Right now, that's the GOP — though Trump still leads the polls.

A basic rule of politics and sports says that the team that is more internally divided loses more than it wins. And yet, if you believe the current polls, it’s Donald Trump in the lead in the 2024 presidential race, despite being the head of a party that is clearly more divided. 

Of course, as has been observed numerous times, this isn’t proving to be any normal year in American politics. The Democratic Party, in contrast to the GOP, is relatively united. Yes, there’s a debate about Israel that is contentious, but the main division inside the Democratic Party is not about policy right now. It’s about President Joe Biden’s ability to run and whether he’s truly the strongest candidate to face Trump. 

But this debate about Biden isn’t technically a political divide. This isn’t the left versus the centrists, with age being used as a proxy over something deeper. This is a debate over tactics, not something that’s core to the definition of "progressive" or "Democrat."

What’s happening inside the GOP is a debate over the definition of “conservative” and “Republican.” It’s a debate about how to implement a policy that supports the longtime mantra “peace through strength.” It’s a debate about the role of government, with a sharp divide over whether government should be used to implement or influence culture. For many longtime Republicans, what Trump and his wing of the GOP offer is something they don’t recognize as “Republican” or “conservative.” 

Given the current divides roiling the two parties, it’s easier to see unenthusiastic high-profile Democrats getting behind Biden since they don’t have a beef with him on policy than it is seeing Trump getting his disloyalists back on board. Take Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. I get why he’s decided to hold off officially endorsing Biden over Trump now. But who’s he going to support — the person he voted to impeach twice, or the guy he’s ideologically closer to on just about every major noncultural issue out there? Manchin is likely waiting to endorse when he thinks it could have some juice — namely after Labor Day.

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