Jay Cost: Could Howard Dean Primary Barack Obama?

So, it’s worth asking on this cold January day: could Howard Dean primary Barack Obama?

Of course he could, but nobody should expect him to topple the President. If Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t successfully primary Howard Taft in 1912, what hope does any insurgent have, especially one who lost out to John Kerry?

Now, the nomination battle has changed quite a bit in the 98 years since Teddy took on the Big Lub, but the following is most definitely true. Incumbent presidents who were elected to office were often denied their party’s re-nomination in the 19th century (the first loser being the drunk, incompetent Franklin Pierce in 1856), but it is a very rare occurrence these days. And by rare I mean it hasn’t happened in over a century.

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