The New York Times published an interesting story Wednesday exploring how the country’s presidential aspirants were seeking to position themselves politically vis-à-vis the Baltimore riots. Times reporters Amy Chozick and Michael Barbaro wrote, “Many of the 2016 contenders seemed either caught off guard or uncertain of how, or even whether, to respond [to the crisis].”
In one important aspect, it doesn’t really matter how they respond. In terms of the 2016 general election, the riots, along with last year’s riots in Ferguson, Missouri, have already established their impact. And, to the extent that that impact is significant, it will harm the political standing of the Democratic candidate. History demonstrates that serious social disruption in the streets always is a net negative for the incumbent presidential party.
This reality is often missed because few political commentators and analysts accept the view that presidential elections are largely referendums on the White House incumbent or incumbent party.