"As many of you have probably noticed, we’re suspicious of overarching political “narratives” here at FiveThirtyEight. Oftentimes, they’re applied prematurely to explain short-term fluctuations in the polls that prove irrelevant in the end.1 And even when narratives avoid this problem, they tend to be ad hoc, introduced after the fact to describe results rather than predicting them in advance.
Which narratives deserve more credit? We’re inclined to give more attention to theories of the 2016 campaign that (in the manner of testable scientific hypotheses) were proposed before it began. And we give more credence to narratives that rely on evidence other than polls,2 since polls just aren’t very predictive of much at this stage of the campaign.
Here’s one narrative that passes these tests. You might or might not agree with it, but it deserves a hearing. I was reminded of it the other day when reading an interview with the political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, who have written extensively about it. The theory is that Republicans are a broken, dysfunctional political party — that the GOP is in disarray, in other words."