Why do populists succeed?

Question: How is it that populist politician often beat established political parties. How can small newcomers without established patronage networks, fundraising operations, media support or experience beat politicians who have all of these things?

Potential Answers:

  1. They don’t. Populists usually lose. It’s just that we tend to remember the ones who succeed.
  2. Populists are optimized for persuading the average person. Politicians are optimized for getting their party to like them (e.g: winning primaries in the USA or getting assigned to a safe seat in the UK)
  3. Politicians are part of parties. Parties have institutional inertia and lag behind public opinion. Hence sometimes parties lines are hugely suboptimal and hence an outsider with a different line has a decent shot.
  4. The public in some circumstances heavily punishes establishment figures.

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