As the 2012 presidential campaign began to form seriously in 2011, some conservatives suggested that the by-then commonplace slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!” would be replaced by new slogan “It’s Obamacare, stupid!” as the emblematic theme of the Republican attempt to replace the president, then in his first term, the next year.
It was based, quite understandably, on the performance of the 2010 mid-term elections when the Republicans regained control of the U.S. house with a pick-up of 60-plus seats, and a significant pick-up of U.S senate seats, primarily due to negative voter reaction to the just-passed medical care reform law known as Obamacare. Republicans, it should be remembered, became increasingly confident that they could win the 2012 presidential election, and they nominated someone who, because of his support of a similar program when he was governor of a northeastern state, was going to have a difficult time making Obamacare a dispositive issue. Mitt Romney had other political problems, to be sure, and the election was close, but the GOP slogan did not materialize as the difference.
Going into the 2014 mid-term elections, Obamacare is once again driving voters away from Democratic candidates. In fact, it is potentially more serious than in 2010 because the legislation is now being implemented — with disastrous early results.
I am suggesting, however, that a focus on Obamacare by Republicans beyond 2014 is a very bad strategy. The reasons are simple. If voter dissatisfaction with the legislation does resonate in the 2014 elections, it will be repealed or dramatically altered whether or not President Obama agrees to it. Members of Congress of his own party, having seen the writing on the electoral wall of 2014, will vote to override any veto. It will be a matter of political survival, and Mr. Obama will be a very lame duck. If, somehow, Obamacare miraculously (it would take a miracle) succeeds suddenly in 2014, including getting by its inaugural technical glitches, and its implementation is not put off until 2015, there will obviously no issue. In either case, Obamacare would cease to confront voters after 2015.
At the same time, Democrats are developing, as their prime slogan for 2016, “It’s time for a woman president!” This, of course, presupposes that the current Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, is their nominee. There are two problems with this slogan-as-strategy. First, in spite of her huge lead in current polls, the election is almost three years away. Mrs. Clinton enjoyed a similar “insurmountable” lead in 2005, and three years later, she came up short when Mr. Obama won the party nod. Second, and perhaps more important, relying on an abstraction, albeit a sympathetic one for some voters, is a very risky strategy, and not ultimately complimentary to Mrs. Clinton’s qualifications.
I happen to believe it IS time for a woman (from either party) to be elected president, but I certainly would not want to vote for a woman primarily because of her sex. The nation leads outstanding leadership, now more than ever, and the only true major consideration should be a vote for the best person, either liberal or conservative, to serve in the nation’s highest office. Historically, it was theoretically time for a Catholic to be president in 1928 when Al Smith was the Democratic nominee, but it was not until 1960 when John Kennedy was elected. It was time to have a Jew on the national ticket in 2000 when Joe Lieberman was the Democratic vice presidential nominee, but he did not win. Jesse Jackson ran twice for president, and many said that Republican Colin Powell could have won if he ran, but it was Barack Obama who was the first black president.
Today, notably more women already vote Democratic, and notably more men vote Republican. It is difficult to imagine that an even higher percentage of women would vote for a Democratic nominee. It is thus illusory to think that primarily because she is a woman, Mrs. Clinton would win in 2016. Nor will her “resume” alone give her victory. American voters historically don’t vote for “resumes,” including most recently in 2008. If she is her party’s nominee, Mrs. Clinton will have to give voters very good reasons to vote for her, especially after two terms of a president of her own party, the resulting Obama-fatigue that will exist in 2016, and despite her own many controversies, personal and political.
It is, of course, a long time until 2016. In addition to the 2014 elections, numerous events, many of them unanticipated, will occur. Hillary Clinton could indeed be elected president in 2016, but I suspect the main reason would not be simply that she is a woman. (What if, by the way, the GOP nominee chooses the talented New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez as his running mate?) A Republican might indeed be elected president in 2016, but I suspect the main reason would not be voter dissatisfaction with Obamacare.
Slogans, or other short rationales, do rarely win national elections. Long before it was verbalized by the Bill Clinton campaign, the “economy” was almost always was the major factor in a presidential election.
-Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.
This morning brought news that should make every Republican who actually wants to win in 2016 groan; Donald Trump is talking once again about running for President.
Of course, this is an old game for Trump, who has been flirting with running for President since at least 2000 (he wanted to run with Ross Perot’s Reform Party back then). Trump has proven to be nothing if not good at publicity-seeking. The media, either out of a desire to embarrass the GOP or attracted to Trump like people are attracted to a car crash (or a bit of both), even gave him an interview on ABC News. It was about as useful as you’d expect, with Trump not only raising the Birther nonsense about President Obama, but also about Senator Ted Cruz as well. In short, it was nothing short of an embarrassment for all involved.
While the idea of Trump clogging up the airwaves by mulling, but never actually pulling the trigger on running for President is enough to give us a stomach ache, this could be a real opportunity for one of the potential GOP candidates. It has been a mistake I believe for the GOP and the conservative media to give any sort of credibility to Trump. He’s a circus clown; colorful, attention-grabbing, but ultimately not worth much and he should be treated as such. One of the candidates running for President needs to, with as much publicity as possible, tear into Trump, the Birthers, and others who would use the serious business of running for President as a self-promotional exercise. These people are not entertaining, they are deeply damaging to an already damaged Republican brand. We have no need for carnival barkers when trying to decide who should be the leader of the free world.
We’ve seen what needs to be done before. Back in 1992, Bill Clinton, running as a “New Democrat” attacked the musician Sister Souljah over her comments on the LA Riots. This was immediately picked up on by the press as Clinton showing a willingness to take on a representative of an extreme faction in his party. Now, Sister Souljah was a trivial figure of minimal importance, but the symbol of a Democrat willing to take her (and by extension folks like Jesse Jackson) was a great message for a Party desperate to show that it had changed. The now famous “Sister Souljah Moment” was critical in establishing the idea that the Democrats of 1992 were different from 1984 or 1988.
Who should be the one to call out Trump and his ilk? Really, it could be anyone of the 2016 prospects. Christie seems the most likely to do it, given his personality and persona. Someone like Paul Ryan might do it, given his reputations as an intellectual leader of the Party. Marco Rubio could do it too in order to curry favor with the more moderate wing of the Party. One of the lesser-known possible contenders, like Governors Walker or Jindal might do it to try and get some publicity. But I believe that the two gentlemen who would do themselves the most favors in denouncing Trump would be Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Both Senators have their own problems with being seen as rigidly ideological and perhaps willing to tolerate some of the more rabid folks in their own fan base. If Sens. Paul or Cruz were to stand up and publicly denounce Trump in no uncertain terms, they could reap a lot of publicity as well as surprise the press and others within the Party. It would signal that they are more than just rigid ideologues. It would also show that they are serious about advancing their ideology without having clowns like Trump associated with it.
The appearance of Trump on the GOP presidential scene is a bad reoccurring headache that sprouts up every couple of years. In the past, the GOP has made the mistake of indulging the publicity-seeking mogul. I believe that the time has come for someone in the Party to stand up and say “enough is enough”. With any luck, one of the gentlemen wanting to lead our Party into the next election will be the first one to do it.
This week’s installment of Fourteen for 2014 couldn’t have been timed better if I had planned it myself (cue conspiracy theories). This is because today, Politco reported that Congressman Tom Cotton is going to challenge Mark Pryor for the Senate seat in Arkansas. Congressman Cotton has been touted as the GOP’s top recruit to go after Pryor, who didn’t even have a Republican challenger in 2008.
Congressman Cotton, who was just elected in 2012, made waves even back then. The Weekly Standard did a glowing profile of him, and talking him up as a future party leader. Knowing about the Congressman’s background, it’s not hard to see why. Cotton, who is only 36, is a native Arkansan who graduated from Harvard undergrad magna cum laude and also graduated from Harvard Law School. In 2005 Cotton became an officer in the United States Army and later went on to become a U.S. Army Ranger. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne and won the Bronze Star. After being honorably discharged in 2009 he worked in a management consulting firm, as a clerk for a judge on the Fifth Circuit, and at the family cattle farm. He won his seat in Congress by a huge margin, 59-37 and is only the 2nd Republican in history to serve Arkansas’s 4th Congressional District.
It is a good time to be running in Arkansas as a Republican. Arkansas was once seen as one of the few places in the Old South where Democrats could win statewide. Until 2010, Arkansas had only 1 Republican Representative and was in the minority in both houses of the legislature. Today things are very different. Republicans, for the first time since Reconstruction, control both chambers of the legislature and for the first time ever, all four Congressmen are Republicans. John Boozman trounced Blanche Lincoln in their Senate race in 2010 and Mitt Romney won Arkansas by a nearly two-to-one margin. Much like West Virginia, Arkansas voters have been heavily turned off by President Obama and his agenda. The President is wildly unpopular in Arkansas; he even lost 40% of the Democratic primary in 2012 when he was running against laughable opposition.
All that being said, toppling Mark Pryor won’t be easy. He’s tried mightily hard to show voters that he’s an old-fashioned Democrat, like the ones they used to be comfortable with. He also has a famous name; his father was Governor and Senator of Arkansas. And Pryor can count on a lot of money; he already has over $4 million in the bank, which can go far in an inexpensive state like Arkansas.
However, if there is one candidate who Republicans think can beat Pryor, it is Cotton. His voting record in Congress is conservative, but with a definite hawkish streak. If he does get elected to the Senate, expect some interesting debates between Cotton and folks like Rand Paul over the direction of U.S. foreign policy.
Here’s the Congressman’s speech at CPAC this year:
For more information on Cotton, you can visit his official House website (his Senate campaign one isn’t up yet).
In the second installment of the Fourteen for 2014 series, the next Republican candidate to watch comes from the Lone Star State. Texas is the largest consistently red state in America and as such, is very important in Republican politics. Since 1980, every open Republican primary has had at least one candidate hailing from Texas. In 2016, it’s already looking like there will be at least one Texan run (Cruz) and maybe another (Perry). Much like New York and California for the Dems, Texas is also important for the money primary. In short, when it comes to Republican politics what happens in Texas does not stay in Texas.
2014 promises to bring change in Texas. Rick Perry is stepping down after 14 years as Governor. The race to succeed Perry has been focused on one man: Attorney General Greg Abbott. The Attorney General has raised a huge amount of money: over $23 million so far in fact, and seems to have a clear path to the Republican nomination and the Governor’s Mansion. Abbott has managed a feat that eludes most Republican candidates in uniting Establishment and Tea Party Republicans. He has appealed to more conservative Republicans by taking a fiercely combative stance against the Obama Administration. Abbott has filed 27 lawsuits against the Administration, on issues ranging from Obamacare to the EPA. He once described his job as “I come to work, I sue the federal government and I go home”. Abbott has also shown an ability to win statewide. He won both his first election 56-41 and his reelection 59-37.
Abbott also has an inspiring personal story. When he was 27, a tree fell on him while he was jogging, making him a paraplegic. If Abbott is elected, he will be Texas’s first Catholic Governor. His wife Cecilia is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and Abbott speaks fluent Spanish. The Democrats by contrast are looking at State Senator Wendy Davis who launched the filibuster against the abortion law that Perry just signed into law. But Texas is a red state, the majority of voters in the State are pro-life and Davis has nowhere near the money that Abbott has. Nominating her might make the Democrats feel good, but it won’t stop Abbott.
Below is a video of Abbott’s announcement. For more information, visit his website:
Even though it is 16 months away, the 2014 Election is in full swing. Candidates for office are either testing the waters or have jumped into races already. With that in mind, I’ve decided to start a new segment here at Race, called Fourteen for 2014. The purpose of this is to raise awareness about Republican candidates running for statewide or federal office that could become future leaders in our Party. Congressional, senatorial, gubernatorial and other statewide races are where future party leaders are first noticed. Some of these candidates are incumbents running for reelection, others are challenging Democratic incumbents, and still others are looking at open seats.
So, without further ado, let’s meet the first candidate: State Senator Joni Ernst who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Tom Harkin in Iowa. Ernst has been a State Senator since 2010, taking the seat of now Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. Before that, Ernst was the Auditor of Montgomery County, the same county that she was born in and grew up in. In addition to being a State Senator, Ernst is a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa National Guard and served in Kuwait and Iraq. She has described herself as “a mother, a solider, and a conservative”. Even though he is officially neutral, Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds have both been encouraging Ernst to jump into the race.
Below is her first speech of the campaign where she touts her conservative credentials:
Ernst is one of several Republican candidates running, including radio talk show host Sam Clovis, attorney Matt Whitaker, and Sen. Grassley’s former chief of staff David Young. The winner of the Republican nomination will face Democrat Bruce Braley, who is the Congressman from Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. If Ernst wins, she would be the first woman to represent Iowa in either House of Congress. For more information about Joni Ernst, visit her website.
Long time away, but thought this little tidbit may be newsworthy enough for a front page mention.
Marco Rubio may very well be gearing up for a run at the GOP nomination. However, former Congressman Allen West is considering mounting a challenge to unseat Rubio.
From The Daily Caller:
In an interview on Washington, D.C.’s WMAL 105.9 FM “Mornings on the Mall” radio show on Wednesday, former Florida Republican Rep. Allen West inidcated that he might be open to challenging Sen. Marco Rubio in a 2016 GOP Senate primary.
“That’s a pretty heavy lift, because you’re talking about running against a sitting senator, and then, of course, that creates that schism that the other side would love to see happen,” West, who has ruled out a 2014 run, told host Larry O’Connor.
West, who said he wanted to “serve this country in whatever capacity I possibly can,” explained that his frustration with Rubio stemmed from the possible GOP presidential candidate’s support of the current immigration reform bill, which is currently being debated in the Senate.
Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has an op-ed today on Politico that essentially tells the Republican Party to stop analyzing the 2012 election and start doing…something:
Let’s stop defeating ourselves, get on offense, and go kick the other guys around. If you’ve followed the news over the past month, they are certainly asking for it. We are the conservative party in America — deal with it. We have a lot of dissenting voices. So what? Deal with it. The American public waxes and wanes. Fine. It will wax again soon enough. Deal with it, and start fighting for our principles instead of against them, so we can be in position to create the next wave.
I find this to be an odd piece of advice from the Governor. We Republicans have lost two elections in a row. Yet, the Governor feels that our Party needs to stop looking at what we have done wrong and what we need to do differently and instead get on with implementing a strategy to get back to winning.
This would be great advice, if the Republican Party had unanimity about what to do next. Instead, what we have now is a Party that is divided on strategy, tactics and policy. We can’t move forward with a policy or strategy because the people in the Party don’t agree on the path forward. On issues like immigration, foreign policy, and gay marriage, there are real, passionate opinions on both sides. These opinions can’t be swept under the rug, and in fact should be debated. Moderates, conservatives, libertarians and people who are combinations of all three are in the Republican Party and they aren’t going to agree on everything. Even if there was a unanimous opinion on policy, there are divisions between pragmatists, who think that the Party has to change with the times, and hard-liners who think that the GOP must return to Reaganite conservatism. Again, these are real, passionately held beliefs and they are not likely to give them up anytime soon in order to “move on” or “get over it”.
Governor Jindal himself has, since the November election, offered up his two cents on what the Party needs to do, often in harsh tones. He has called the GOP “the stupid party” and has said that the Party is too obsessed with fiscal issues. Of course, the Governor might want to focus a little closer to home, but I digress.
After two electoral defeats, a Republican post-mortem was inevitable. McCain’s loss could be dismissed. With the financial crisis, the deep unpopularity of the Bush Administration, and the Messianic nonsense of the Obama campaign, victory by November 2008 was virtually impossible. 2012 was different though; given the poor economy, and that the President’s signature legislative accomplishment wildly disliked, defeat was not inevitable. Republicans felt towards the end of the 2012 campaign that we had at least a decent chance of winning. That was shattered on election night. For the Party to simply ignore what happened in 2008 and 2012 would be a folly in the extreme. Governor Jindal might have a lot of good ideas, but simply moving on for the sake of moving on is not one of them.
Many commentators have been suggesting recently that the Republican Party is actually two parties. The problem with this analysis is that there are so many different suggested pairs of the Party’s identity.
Some say the GOP is split between Tea Party devotees and establishment conservatives. Others say the division is between social conservatives and economic conservatives. Still others see the two groups as rural Republicans and urban/suburban Republicans. Some analyze the GOP as differing by regions (in which case there are four parties). There are those who say that today’s GOP is divided between rich voters and blue collar (“Reagan Republican”) voters. One more theory has it that the major difference is between young Republicans and older Republicans.
There is some truth to each of these analyses, and if this is so, there are more than a dozen overlapping large factions in the Republican Party, and that does not further divide GOP voters by specific issues (in which case there are almost a hundred identifiable factions).
With so many factions and so many divisions, how will it be possible for the American conservative party to win a national election?
I suggest that as long as the various elected officials, spokespersons, radio hosts, TV personalities and political consultants emphasize, screamt, focus on exclusively, and obsess about their differences, and insist on them, they are very unlikely to win back control of both bodies of the Congress, and later, the White House.
The best way to win elections is for a political party to figure what its members agree about.
A political party that does not want to win elections is not fit to govern, no matter what their written or stated policy principles.
Winning isn’t everything, differing opinions always exist in any group. but not winning is not governing.
It’s that simple.
-Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.
As you may have heard or seen on the news, the Republican National Committee has released the report compiled by a special committee which makes recommendations as to what the party needs to do if it is to improve its position among voters. When reading through this document, my reactions tended to be one of HELLO as it carefully acknowledges that “we have a problem.” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has, I believe, done the best he can and hopefully this will lead to something positive. Yet, I see the official GOP as struggling more with mechanics rather than with the character, substance, and reception of its message. There is no better demonstrable example of the importance of message and how it is presented than the fact that Ronald Reagan was the oldest elected president in history but received one of the highest percentages of the 18-29 year old vote in history. Message, both explicit and implicit, and especially the character of the message is important. It is awfully hard to get people to vote for us if we continue to tell them, implicitly, that we don’t like them. Unfortunately, that is the perception of most ethnic minorities, singles (especially single women), younger voters, and gays.
Here’s a link to the report courtesy of the Washington Post.
Yesterday, Kavon called our attention to an interesting analysis by Nate Silver in his New York Times Five Thirty-Eight column. A few points made by Silver as well as certain aspects of his statistical results measuring “the conservatism” of past and potential presidential candidates have provoked me to offer thoughts of my own as to what these statistics actually mean and what they tell us (or don’t tell us) about candidates and their prospective success.
First of all, statistical ratings of politicians tend to be subjective in that they often reflect a covert or overt bias of those making the determination as to what to count and how. That being said, Silver seems to have done a good and credible job of analyzing and scoring in support of his commentary. The question is what does it all really mean and what does it tells us about the future of these prospective candidates and their likelihood of success both in an election campaign and once in office.
Silver’s table compiling the conservatism scores of potential presidential candidates (past and present) identifies a particularly glaring and illustrative point: that being Ronald Reagan’s score of 44 compared with George W. Bush’s score of 46. Well now, anyone care to compare the record of these two-term Republican presidents from the standpoint of successful conservative governance, of developing and implementing constructive conservative reforms? Bush had a GOP controlled Congress for most of his first six years; Reagan only had a GOP Senate during his first six years. In addition, anyone want to compare the overall posture of the country (including the economy) at the end vs beginning of their respective presidencies? Or, the strategic position, credibility, and popularity of the Republican Party and the conservative movement at the end of their respective presidencies? Hmmm.
Perhaps the respective Reagan and Bush scores, as well as the scores of the more contemporary candidates, tell us more about what passes for Conservatism and titilates Republican-Conservative activists these days who seem to focus more on rhetoric than on substance or actual net accomplishment. Note that in the category of public statements Bush scored 47 while Reagan scored only 37. The scoring methodologies used in this analysis may be interesting and fun to talk about, but they tell us very little at this point as to what we can actually expect from any of the prospective candidates. What’s missing is some measure of performance and accomplishment that can be compared to rhetoric or support from interest groups and ideological commentators. For executive office holds that is easier than for members of the legislature, but legislators also have a track record beyond a simple voting record. Some are able to demonstrate an ability to develop constructive reform initiatives and build support for such, even among those who might not be initial allies, and to appeal to non-traditional constituencies. Jack Kemp was legendary in this regard. Marco Rubio shows signs of such ability but he is only beginning his third year in the Senate while in the national spotlight, so only time will tell. He did have a track record in the Florida State House which should be evaluated.
While I would have chosen Bill Clinton as a better example than Obama (who I consider to be arrogant and polarizing), the closing point in Silver’s article is spot on:
One measure of political talent, and something that characterized both Mr. Reagan and Mr. Obama, is the ability to sell ideas to voters across a wide range of the political spectrum. Perhaps Mr. Rubio will prove to be such a talent. Otherwise, if Mr. Rubio holds a fairly ordinary (and conservative) set of Republican positions, his popularity ratings may wind up being ordinary as well.
What Silver is saying here, albeit somewhat subtly, is that if Rubio plays only to the existing GOP base as it is currently configured he is likely to fail. But, if he is able to create a coalition that includes those who have not recently identified with the GOP base— thus creating a new base of sorts—while holding most of the existing base, he may likely succeed. That is how both Reagan and Clinton succeeded within their respective parties and among the general electorate. They brought new people into the nominating process and expanded their parties’ coalition beyond what had been its traditional character. A similar strategy will be required for any successful GOP candidate in 2016.
Do you think illegal immigrants who are living in America should be offered a chance to apply for legal citizenship, or do you think they should all be deported back to their native countries?
- They should be offered a chance to apply for legal citizenship 46%
- They should be deported back to their home country 42%
- They should be offered a chance to apply for legal citizenship 36%
- They should be deported back to their home country 53%
- They should be offered a chance to apply for legal citizenship 50%
- They should be deported back to their home country 37%
- They should be offered a chance to apply for legal citizenship 43%
- They should be deported back to their home country 46%
- They should be offered a chance to apply for legal citizenship 49%
- They should be deported back to their home country 38%
Survey of 508 Republican primary voters was conducted January 31 – February 3, 2013. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points. Political ideology: 41% Very conservative; 41% Somewhat conservative; 14% Moderate; 2% Somewhat liberal; 1% Very liberal.
-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal
Yesterday, President Obama went against pretty much everyone’s advice and picked former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, setting up a major fight in the Senate. On its face this pick is trying to perpetuate the myth that Obama is some kind of “post-partisan” President but looking at the response from Senate Republicans punctures another hole in that myth.
Senator Cruz of Texas said this:
Chuck Hagel is not the right choice for Secretary of Defense, and if he is nominated, it is
difficult to imagine any way I could support his confirmation. Hagel has not been a friend of
Israel, our most important ally in a very troubled region of the world. And he has repeatedly
been soft on our enemies. Bullies do not respond to weakness, and Hagel’s stance on Iran –
the most serious national security challenge America currently faces — makes conflict more
likely, not less likely.
America needs someone leading the Pentagon who understands that peace comes through
strength. And we need a Defense Secretary who will stand unshakably alongside the nation
of Israel, because that alliance is vital to preserving U.S. security.
Although, if nominated, I will listen to what he has to say in a confirmation hearing, Chuck
Hagel’s record strongly suggests he is not that man.
Senator McCain commented:
“Chuck Hagel served our nation with honor in Vietnam and I congratulate him on this nomination. I have serious concerns about positions Senator Hagel has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years, which we will fully consider in the course of his confirmation process before the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
And Senator Kelly Ayotte said:
“While I deeply respect Senator Hagel’s brave service in Vietnam, I am concerned by several positions he took as a senator – particularly his long-standing opposition to increased Iran sanctions and his views regarding Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as our close ally Israel. As the Armed Services Committee reviews his nomination, I will vigorously question him on these and other issues.”
The concerns that all three of the Senators mention come up for one simple reason; Hagel’s record and rhetoric shows a contempt for one of the United States’ closest allies, the State of Israel. His comments about the “Jewish Lobby” are a pernicious old myth of anti-Semitism; that there is some kind of Jewish cabal pulling the strings of the world. A vicious piece of garbage called Protocols of the Elders of Zion, made by Tsarist agents at the turn of the twentieth-century, essentially said that there was a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. Modern anti-Jewish leftists have taken this myth and updated it using phrases eerily similar to Hagel’s “Jewish Lobby” remark.
Even beyond that, Hagel also voted against sending a letter to the government of Russia asking them to combat anti-Semitism. He voted against sanctions on Iran and has been in favor of talking to the terrorist group Hezbollah. He thought the Surge in Iraq was a major mistake. In short, if there has been a foreign policy issue, Hagel has been wrong about it.
So this is the man that President Obama should be in charge of our defense policy. Combine Hagel with the oh-so-brilliant John Kerry at Foggy Bottom and you have the makings of a disastrous foreign policy that will make the mistakes of the last four years look like the good old days.
Elections have consequences. I highly doubt that a President Romney would nominate Hagel for dog-catcher, much less the Cabinet. Even sadder is the fact that barring a truly terrible confirmation hearing, he is likely to be confirmed; Democrats control the Senate after all. A Republican Senate would likely have killed a Hagel nomination in its cradle. Elections have consequences folks.
Perhaps one of the most sobering facts about the 2012 election is the fact that Governor Romney of Massachusetts, who picked a Midwesterner as a running mate, failed to carry a single solitary state in the Northeast. President Obama swept the Northeast, mostly by very heavy margins, and racked up 109 electoral votes in the process. That is the equivalent of 2 California’s and aside from New Hampshire, there wasn’t even an effort by the RNC or the Romney campaign or frankly the state parties to put their states in the Republican column. Most Republicans write off the Northeast as hopelessly liberal and Democratic, hardly worth the fight. Best to concentrate on states like Ohio or Colorado than to make a play for Connecticut or New Jersey.
In the short span of time that a presidential campaign occupies, that makes sense. After all, a candidate or campaign has only 6-8 months after winning the nomination to assemble 270 electoral votes and win the White House. But for the Republican Party, this seems like a foolish strategy. Writing off 109 electoral votes in a presidential campaign is deleterious to the Republican Party overall, not just to a presidential campaign. An ineffective Republican Party harms candidates down the ballot as well. If we want more Republican Governors, legislators, Senators and Congressmen, we need to start making a play for the Northeast once again.
Luckily for the GOP, we already know how to do this. Before the 1950’s the South was so overwhelmingly Democratic that it won the nickname “The Solid South”. To put it in perspective, back in 1920 when Warren G. Harding beat James Cox 60%-34% in the popular vote, Cox won South Carolina with 96%, Georgia with 72%, and Louisiana with 69%. Harding became only the second Republican candidate in history to carry Tennessee, and only by 13,000 votes. The South was the electoral bedrock of the Democratic Party.
By the 1950’s, the South had begun to change and after Dwight D. Eisenhower took several Southern states in his elections, the RNC begun to think that the South was finally willing to listen to the Republican Party. The RNC set up a project called “Operation Dixie” which was to work for the long-term build-up of the Republican Party. The RNC spent resources, time and talent in Dixie to start winning in the South.
Here is where fact and myth start to grow apart. The conventional wisdom, particularly given by Democrats and liberals is that the GOP began to replace the Democratic Party as the party of Jim Crow and by using racist “code-words”, began to swing the South. While that might make the left feel all warm and fuzzy, it’s also not true. Subscribers to this theory forget that there were other developments that helped turn the South. Issues like right-to-work and the GOP’s moving towards an internationalist, anti-Communist foreign policy, along with an increasingly liberal Democratic Party on non-racial issues were very important. The most critical development though was the migration of people after WWII to the Sun Belt. Places like Texas, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida became very appealing to young families eager to get away from cold northern winters. Many of these families that came to the South were Republicans. It was this group of voters, generally middle-class suburban dwellers who were the base of the new Southern Republican Party. For instance, in my state of Florida, the first real Republican county was Pinellas where St. Petersburg is. Pinellas County became a GOP stronghold while the most Dixiecrat part of Florida, the Panhandle, stayed Democratic long into the future.
The most important part of Operation Dixie was that it took time. Launched in 1957 the year after Dwight Eisenhower took 5 Southern states, the next cycle in 1960 saw Richard Nixon only win three states. Goldwater won 5 states of the Old Confederacy in 1964 but was annihilated everywhere else. It wasn’t until 1968 when Nixon carried 5 Southern states and won the White House as well. In other words, it took 11 years before Operation Dixie saw its goal obtained.
The lesson from Operation Dixie is that with long-term investment and dedication, even a region as hostile to the GOP as the South can, eventually be brought to consider voting Republican. It is true that outside factors like those mentioned above helped the GOP, but the infrastructure and resources had to be in place to take advantage of these developments.
Honesty compels me to say that the person who got me thinking about this was Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker issued a lengthy memo to the RNC (seen here) where he suggested that the GOP start an “Operation California” to try and make the Golden State competitive once again. While certainly a good idea, I think the better use of resources could be an “Operation Yankee”. Not only does the Northeast have twice as many electoral votes as California, there are many more down-the-ballot races, such as Governorships, Senators and Congressional seats to harvest by building up the GOP.
If there is one undeniable takeaway from the disappointing 2012 election results it’s that we Republicans simply cannot write off huge portions of the country if we want to win national elections. The failure of the GOP to win a single electoral vote in the Northeast should be a red-light to the Party. We need to start winning back that section of the country if we want to really be a nationally competitive Party once again.
The New York Times has the Story:
Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has chosen Representative Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the United States Senate, according to three Republican officials. The move will make Mr. Scott the first black senator from the South since the late 19th century.
The governor will make the announcement at noon at the State House in Columbia. She began informing the roster of finalists on Monday morning about her decision to go with Mr. Scott, who was the preferred candidate of many conservative leaders and groups in Washington.
Full story here.
From the department of keep-your-hopes-up:
Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation making Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state.
“I’m confident this is in the best interest of Michiganders,” Snyder said Tuesday evening.
In dramatic fashion, the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon sent Snyder two controversial right-to-work bills as thousands of rowdy protesters demonstrated outside the Capitol.
The House first approved House Bill 4003, 58-51, establishing a right-to-work law for public sector unions. A second bill, Senate Bill 116, which applies to private sector unions, was approved more than an hour later, 58-52.
“This is a major day in Michigan’s history,” Snyder said. “I don’t view this as anti-union at all. I view this as pro-worker.”From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121211/POLITICS02/212110393#ixzz2En7jCbDl
So yes, Michigan, the birthplace of the United Autoworkers Union is now a right-to-work state. Not only is this good public policy, it also can help the Republican Party try to convince the electorate to trust us. While the news out of Washington DC might be depressing for those of us on the right, we can at least take heart that an overwhelming majority of state governments are in Republican hands. This does give us a platform to demonstrate conservative ideas and how Republicans can govern. If more people see how the GOP governs them at the state level, they might be more willing to give us a chance to run the national government.
Whoa… All I can say is that you should read Erick Erickson’s post over at Redstate here.
After two disastrous cycles in which the GOP had chances to recapture the Senate, it looks like the initial Republican efforts for 2014 are off to a much stronger start. With the overwhelming majority of House seats now set due to redistricting, Republican efforts to maintain control of the House look easier. With Boehner set to keep control of the Speaker’s Gavel, the GOP’s main effort should be to finally remove the rancid Harry Reid from the being Senate Majority Leader.
With 20 of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs, Republicans need to start knocking off Democratic incumbents, particularly in states that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Luckily for the Republicans at least two red state Democratic incumbents are set to have serious challengers. In South Dakota former Governor Mike Rounds has decided to challenge Senator Tim Johnson. Back in 2002, Senator Johnson defeated now-Senator John Thune by only 524 votes. In 2008 with the awful year facing the GOP there was no major attempt to challenge Johnson. With Governor Rounds, who won reelection by a 61%-39% margin in the bad 2006 cycle, Republicans have a challenger with a proven record at winning statewide. Another factor in this race is the health of Senator Johnson who suffered bleeding in the brain in 2006. If he is faced with a grueling campaign, the Senator might decide to retire instead. The Democrat most likely to run for the seat if Johnson retires is Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who served as Congresswoman-at-large from 2004-2010 before losing to Kristi Noem.
The other big GOP recruiting coup so far is in West Virginia. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, the longtime Congresswoman from the 2nd District, after years of wooing from national Republicans, has finally agreed to run statewide for the Senate. The incumbent she’s challenging is long-time Senator Jay Rockefeller who was first elected to the Senate in 1984. Moore Capito is the daughter of former Governor Arch Moore, one of only two Republican Governors since 1933. The Congresswoman is considered a moderate and the Club for Growth (the most wrongly named group in America but I digress) has already made it clear that they don’t approve of Capito. However if she gets through the GOP primary, Capito would make a fierce opponent for Rockefeller, who has been making headlines recently in the state for attacking the coal industry. President Obama is also despised in the Mountain State; Mitt Romney won every single county in West Virginia, a feat that no other Republican has ever managed to accomplish (h/t to Tommy T). Even if Rockefeller does not run, the Democratic bench in West Virginia is pretty thin. Governor Tomblin just won reelection; the longtime Democrat Attorney General went down to defeat in November, and Republicans made major gains in the West Virginia Legislature in 2012.
These are just two of the potential pick up opportunities for the GOP. Seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, and North Carolina are all Democratic seats where the Republicans might have a chance to win. Not to mention Massachusetts if Senator John Kerry is appointed to the Cabinet and Scott Brown runs for the open seat. Others will need to have the incumbents retire (Iowa, Michigan and Montana in particular) and all the seats will need strong candidates recruited.
Speaking of recruiting, let’s get something out of the way. Republicans of all stripes; moderates, social conservatives, tea party and establishment lost in November in winnable seats. It wasn’t so much that one wing of the party or the other squandered the chance to pick up Senate seats, it was that bad candidates cost the GOP all over. After all in Montana, Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota Mitt Romney over performed our Senate candidates, some of them by substantial margins. Republicans in Washington, and those primary voters in the target states, are going to have to work together to recruit and nominate appeal candidates who can win in their states.
It will take winning 6 seats to recapture the Senate, a difficult though certainly not impossible task. If Republican recruiting efforts are as good as they’ve been in South Dakota and West Virginia, then the GOP might finally achieve the goal of winning both branches of the Congress.
Update: One of our regular readers, Marque, who is from West Virginia said this about the Senate race:
“Rahall isn’t so strong statewide, and locally he was given a serious run for his money by a plain ol’ general contractor. Senator Goodwin statewide would cause voters to emit a “Who?” The only person on the Dem bench with statewide profile and charisma would probably be state SOS Natalie Tenant. If Rockefeller retires (which seems unlikely to me, anyway) and Tenant jumps in, Capito might not have such a sure shot, IMHO.”
As often happens after an electoral defeat, the losing side is going through a period of soul-searching. Right now a whole variety of figures on the right are proposing their own remedies and solutions to help the Republicans out of our current rut. Some are suggesting changes in policy, others in style, and others are for hunkering down. Regardless of what prescription is the way the party will go forward, I feel that any sort of trashing of the GOP brand is the absolute wrong way to go.
By trashing the brand I am referring mostly right now to Governor Bobby Jindal who is calling on the Republicans to stop being the “stupid party”. Not only is this offensive to millions of Republican voters, activists and candidates but it is also very unhelpful to both the Party and to Governor Jindal himself. Firstly, by having a Republican refer to the GOP as the “stupid party”, it is giving the media further license to do so. We Republicans can be furious at the overt bias in the media, but it does exist and we have to adapt to dealing with it. Now the media can turn to every other Republican politician and ask “do you think the Republicans are the stupid party?” or “what is it about the GOP that makes it the stupid party?” It puts other Republicans in a very awkward spot and gives the left and the media (but I repeat myself) a new cudgel to whack the Republicans in the head with.
More important than just causing headaches, the big problem with trashing the Republican brand is that the public will start to hear it and believe it. A Republican politician denouncing the Republican Party is one of the things that can get into the public consciousness. That means that the next time we present a policy, the damage done to the Republican brand by Republican politicians will make it that much harder for Republicans to persuade the public on that policy.
If this is not enough to persuade politicians to stop tarnishing the Republican brand, then one thing above all should; self-interest. After all, attacking the Republican Party is very likely to alienate Republican voters who’ll decide who leads the party in 2016. Look at Jon Huntsman’s bid in 2012. The Ambassador’s disdain for his own party was extremely self-evident during his run for the nomination and Republican voters rewarded him for it by making him place third in the one state he competed in.
So, you may ask, how do we change without going after the Republican brand? It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but a skillful politician can do it. British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Bill Clinton are two examples of politicians who changed the image of their party without directly trashing their own parties. It caused some headaches and it was definitely a bumpy road, but the Democrats in 1992 and the Conservative Party in 2010 managed to persuade enough voters that their parties had changed to propel both back into power after long droughts.
With our defeat in 2012 the Republican Party does need to do some soul-searching. It’s the healthy and right thing to do as we look towards the future. But the idea that the only way we can move forward is by telling everyone how awful Republicans are is not the way to go. All the self-loathing will do is give more ammunition to those who have no interest in helping the Republican Party.
In the interest of equal time…
The back-and-forth carnage between Israelis and Palestinians appears to possibly be headed towards a (temporary) lull. As we reflect upon this harsh period of rockets and sorties, we cannot overlook one of Operation Pillar of Defense’s greatest bombshells: Credit where credit is due, President Obama and his administration have clearly articulated Israel’s right to self-defense and have only very tepidly urged any restraint.
This has no doubt been the most pro-Israel posture that this administration has taken during any trying period between our respective countries since Barack Obama took office. Perhaps Obama woke up after being reelected and suddenly recognized the wisdom of hawkish military operations initiated by Bibi Netanyahu, a man he implied was a liar and who subtly urged Americans to vote for Mitt Romney. But perhaps Obama’s changed attitude had –at least something- to do with American Politics 101.
Little noticed in Romney’s slaughter by minorities on November 6th was the fact that –even on a terrible night- he garnered 30% of the Jewish vote, the highest GOP share in 24 years. In the last 5 presidential elections, the GOP nominee garnered an average 18.4% of the Jewish vote.
How did Mitt Romney beat that number so significantly?
A close look reveals some crucial lessons for the GOP as it desperately attempts to gain ground among Hispanics, Asian Americans and other minorities. Jews have for long been a tough nut for Republicans to crack. A very large segment of American Jews descend from immigrants who arrived to major urban centers during the World War Two era, who saw FDR and labor unions as sacred cows to be idolized from generation to generation. Outside staunchly Orthodox circles, Jews’ outlook on life tends to lean to the left as well.
At the same time, Jews have shown a little-known openness to voting Republican in the mid-to-late 20th century. Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon in 1972, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush in 1988, all earned over 30% of the Jewish vote – but it was downhill from there. Bush 41’s share of the Jewish vote slid from 32% in 1988 to 11% in 1992 and the GOP never quite recovered from that until this year.
Yes, even George W. Bush, minority friendly and regarded by many Jews as the most pro-Israel president of their lifetime, could not get more than 24% of the Jewish vote against John Kerry in 2004. John McCain, another hawkish pro-Israel stalwart, could not get more than 22% against Barack Obama, a man with links to Palestinian sympathizers and notorious anti-Semites.
These numbers suggest that Bush 41 did heavy residual damage to the GOP brand. It is fair to say that the primary factors in this are Bush’s perceived weak support for Israel, and particularly his outspoken cool-to-Israel underlings such as Chief of Staff John Sununu and Secretary of State James Baker. Most importantly, you cannot underestimate the damage that Baker’s infamous comment, “(Expletive) the Jews; they don’t vote for us anyway,” and Pat Buchanan’s 1992 “culture war” convention speech inflicted on the GOP image among Jews.
The Republicans and their Jewish allies have been playing catch-up ever since and it appears to have taken over a generation to have finally been corrected. (Jews remain overwhelmingly Democratic, but a much larger segment of them are at least open to voting for either party.) It took extensive grassroots outreach by Jewish Republicans, a staunchly pro-Israel Republican president for two terms and a Democratic president whose first term was more hostile to Israel and its leaders than any administration in memory for that to occur.
Additionally, it took a GOP ticket comprised of a northeastern Ivy League educated businessman from a historically persecuted religious minority and a soft spoken young Catholic from Wisconsin to finally make the sale. Fair or not, Sarah Palin hurt McCain’s prospects among Jews and polls showed, for instance, that Newt Gingrich fared worse than Romney among Jews despite his unflinching pro-Israel record. The ability to culturally relate to a candidate matters.
It takes a scenario as peculiar as Election 2000, when the fate of the presidency rested upon a sliver of Floridian votes, to have a swing among the Jewish vote decide a presidential election. However, even relatively mild swings among Hispanics can have an outsized influence on national elections, and Republicans would be wise to learn from their journey with the Jews to woo more of this demographic into their camp.
Like Jews, Hispanics have always voted solidly Democratic –even, as conservatives like to note, when pro-amnesty Ronald Reagan was the GOP nominee- but the GOP trajectory among the group was likewise headed upwards not all that long ago. Elections 2008 and 2012 saw the trajectory turn sharply downward, with a historic near-lethal resistance to national GOP candidates. No doubt, fierce GOP opposition to immigration reform in 2007, Arizona’s immigration law, and Romney’s heated anti-immigration stand during the primary scared off potential Hispanic GOP voters.
As Republicans scramble to win Hispanic support, they must bear in mind that it won’t be simple –or quick. Changing policy and tone regarding immigration will merely stop the damage. It can easily take a decade or more to go from Romney’s 27% of the Hispanic vote to the 40% or so earned by George W. Bush, and even longer to potentially gain parity. It will take years of aggressive community outreach and a series of culturally relatable GOP candidates –Hispanic or otherwise- to make significant inroads.
At the same time, Republicans can take heart that –like the Jews- Hispanics have historically shown a far greater openness to voting Republican than, say, African-Americans have. These voters are there for the taking. Even if Republicans will see little or no progress among Hispanics during the initial post-2012 cycles, they should not despair. Patience and perseverance will ultimately win the day.
For their part, Hispanic voters would be wise to listen to Obama’s new found courage on behalf of Israel and recognize the enviable clout they can gain if they show even a modest level of flexibility between the two major political parties.
-Simon Blum is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in political analysis and communication. You can follow Simon on Twitter @sbpundit.
Maine GOP chair alleges voter fraud by “dozens” of black people. You couldn’t make this %$#& up if you tried…
The chairman of Maine’s Republican Party said he believes voter fraud took place on Election Day after “dozens of black people,” came in and voted in rural towns where they weren’t recognized by residents.
“In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens, of black people who came in and voted on Election Day,” Charlie Webster told Maine’s WCSH in an interview this week. “Everybody has the right to vote. But nobody in town knows anybody that’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out.”
Webster, whose party lost control of both Maine’s House and Senate, this election cycle said that he believes without some type of voter ID law, the voting system is “fraught with abuse.”
Pressed by the Maine reporter where theses “dozens” of non-resident “black people” voted, Webster did not provide specifics or proof. “In several rural Maine towns,” he said.
Full story here.
Hat-tip: The Argo Journal
Byron York thinks so:
In the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss, many Republicans say the GOP must make far-reaching changes to be competitive in future elections. White voters are a smaller and smaller part of the electorate, they point out, while Latinos and other minorities are growing as a percentage of the voting public. Unless the Republican Party reinvents itself to appeal to those voters, the argument goes, the GOP can get used to being out of power.
There’s something to that. The electorate is changing, and the Republican Party needs to keep up with the times. But the more fundamental answer to the GOP’s problems could be much simpler than that. To win the next time, Republicans need to find a really good candidate.
Mitt Romney…appears not to have excited any big group. Yes, he won the support of 59 percent of white voters, but there are indications that whites actually stayed away from the polls in large numbers. Overall, Romney won fewer votes than John McCain’s doomed 2008 campaign.
“The 2012 elections actually weren’t about a demographic explosion with nonwhite voters,” writes analyst Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics. “Instead, they were about a large group of white voters not showing up. … The reason this electorate looked so different from the 2008 electorate is almost entirely attributable to white voters staying home.”
There is a less complicated lesson to this election. Voters want to believe in a candidate. If Republicans find that candidate, they will win.
As with the piece by Heather MacDonald I examined earlier, this is all true as far as it goes, but it is overlooking something very important.
Mr. York is far too casual about the fact that Mitt Romney won white voters by such a lopsided margin. According to some exit polls, he won by the same margin as Ronald Reagan did in his landslide victory against Jimmy Carter — the election that so many conservatives were hoping that this one would resemble. But the share of the white vote has decreased significantly since then, and the share of the Hispanic vote has quintupled.
2012 was a preview of the future, not an aberration of history produced by the technicalities of campaign mechanics. This cycle was merely a warm-up. The share of the electorate held by single women and Hispanics — as well as young people, growing older, who have learned to despise the Republican brand — is going to grow, not shrink, in 2016. The implicit solution in this piece is to simply fire up more Joe the Plumbers (the hidden white vote) with the same message — just, delivered by a more articulate messenger. That can’t work as a long-term proposition. We’ve been hearing ominous warnings for several cycles now about how the Republican Party needs to adapt its message with an eye toward the future, if it is to remain viable in the long-run. Well, the future is now — and the elections of 2016 and 2020 are really going to happen, too, and we really do need to think about these long-term trends if we want to win them. In other words: we will reap what we sow.
More saliently, then — what are we going to sow? What would a superior Republican candidate look like? What type of Republican candidate will be able to forge an emotional connection with voters in the way that President Obama can? Simply put, he’s got to be one that doesn’t pander to those who try to create an atmosphere of intolerance and exclusion. Consider George W. Bush — the winner of Nevada, Colorado, and even New Mexico (remember when we were competitive there?) — who won roughly 40% of the Hispanic vote in his reelection campaign by championing that community’s ambitions. He spoke the language of compassion and focused on education and health-care reforms. (His strident anti-same-sex marriage stance was mainstream at the time.) The median voter of 2004 did not consider the party of George W. Bush to be intolerant and out-of-touch. Whatever Bush’s faults, he understood what a lot of Republicans don’t. His brand of politics — his family’s, in fact — places a special emphasis on people’s lived experiences — and not just abstract ideology. We don’t need a return to the Bush years, but we do need a return to George W. Bush’s tone toward minorities and their aspirations. The message, not the messenger, is the heart of the problem. It’s really not that complicated.
Some commentators, such as Heather MacDonald (whose work I respect immensely), have argued that immigration isn’t really the problem in appealing to the Hispanic population, since polling shows that they are not only turned off by the GOP’s immigration agenda, but by the party’s (supposed) opposition to big-government handouts:
A March 2011 poll by Moore Information found that Republican economic policies were a stronger turn-off for Hispanic voters in California than Republican positions on illegal immigration. Twenty-nine percent of Hispanic voters were suspicious of the Republican party on class-warfare grounds — “it favors only the rich”; “Republicans are selfish and out for themselves”; “Republicans don’t represent the average person”– compared with 7 percent who objected to Republican immigration stances.
The demographic changes set into motion by official and de facto immigration policy favoring low-skilled over high-skilled immigrants mean that a Republican party that purports to stand for small government and free markets faces an uncertain future.
This is true as far as it goes, but I think that MacDonald is missing something very important.
Back in September, I wrote this about the “empathy gap” that doomed Mitt Romney last Tuesday:
Ideology, by definition, is an abstract concern, while identity relates to people’s lived experiences. Ideals of liberty and freedom are worth fighting for — but for those who aren’t already predisposed to identify with and prioritize those values, they’re also hard to relate to, on a day-to-day level. This difficulty is compounded when dealing with people who are members of minority groups — people for whom identity traits are a constant theme in their emotional life. If you’re white, you’re unlikely to spend a lot of time thinking about your race. However, if you’re gay, you’re almost certainly going to spend a lot of time thinking about your sexual orientation, including how that factors into other aspects of your life, such as politics — which leaves less room for other values, like freedoms of speech, association, and religion.
Should that be so? Maybe. Maybe not. But that’s the way it is. And it makes it significantly easier for Democrats to convince minorities to identify with their party — especially at a young age, when they are still in the process of forging an identity, still deciding what values will be meaningful in their lives. Most people — believe it or not — don’t actually pay much attention to politics. When choosing a political party, the average American simply asks himself which party best matches his personal values. Last year, I persuaded my best friend, a fellow young gay man, to become a Republican instead of a Democrat. “I became a Democrat because of gay marriage,” he explained to me. “From there, I just kind of talked myself into the rest of what the party said.” There are millions of stories just like my friend’s.
Those millions of stories translate into a solid foundation of public support for Democrats. The paradox of appealing to “minorities” is that the majority of us fall into one of those categories. Between blacks, Hispanics, feminist women, gays and lesbians, Jewish people, Muslims, and niche constituencies like labor unions, there are a whole lot of people who can properly identify as a member of a minority group — and the Democrats, not the Republicans, are the ones who appeal to them on a visceral, emotional level. Democrats reach out to them on the basis of identity — on the basis of their lived experiences. When it comes to raw, emotional reactions, lived experiences always beat abstractions. This is why Republicans are consistently trounced on the question of empathy — and why Obama is still in a commanding position to win reelection.
Condoleezza Rice gave an interview on CBS’ This Morning yesterday in which she said this: “If you get the identity issues out of the way, then you can appeal to Americans on the broader issues that all Americans share concerns for.” That’s exactly right. The social issues serve as a barrier to persuasion. New voters — young people, immigrants — tend to learn to identify with one of the parties on a ‘big picture’ basis — not by going down a checklist of issues and comparing the party platforms. Not only are the social issues the easiest for the uninitiated to understand, but they have the most emotional impact, too. It’s one thing to argue over the merits of adjusting the capital gains tax rate — most people will submit that it’s an issue about which reasonable people can civilly disagree. But when Hispanics hear that the Republican presidential nominee has openly advocated making life so miserable for illegal immigrants that they won’t even want to live here anymore (that’s what “self-deportation” means, people), then an enormous wall has been created. When you’ve lost the trust of a minority group, they won’t listen to a word you have to say about Medicare, tax reform, or deficit-reduction. There’s nothing inherent about brown skin that makes a person hostile toward capitalism. But if people with brown skin think that the party of the free market hates them, then they’ll run into the arms of the party of statism. And why not? People need to feel assured that you view them with dignity and respect, not with contempt and loathing. There’s nothing that should be surprising about that.
We don’t need to win the Hispanic vote — we just need to increase our share back to levels more like George W. Bush’s. Changing our policies and tone toward immigration issues is only a first step to achieving that — not only because it is practical, but because it is the right thing to do. Once that issue is out of the way, then we can go about the vital task of reaching out to Hispanic voters on the basis of the timeless American values of upward mobility, economic freedom, and individual liberty.
Surprising findings from W. James Antle III at The Daily Caller:
Come January, Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell isn’t going to be Senate majority leader. But it won’t be for a lack of trying on the part of Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul.
Paul actively supported Republican Senate candidates across the country, both in the general election and during the primaries. Paul even endorsed several swing-state GOP candidates the rest of the party had written off.
The upstart tea party senator signed off on ads attacking incumbent Democrats who were his Senate colleagues, a sharp break with the chamber’s collegial traditions. While some of that was based on Paul’s own legislative priorities — the commercials hit the Democrats for rejecting Paul’s amendment to cut off foreign aid to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan — they aired in battleground states.
Click here for the full story.
Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is calling for the creation of a third political party — saying it is clear to him that neither major political party is willing to address the nation’s economic problems.
“We need a third party to save this country,” Cain told American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer. “This country is in trouble and it is clear that neither party — is going to fix the problems we face.”
Cain agreed with Fischer’s assessment that conservatives are growing tired of being ignored by Republican party leadership — and that many believe the GOP no longer speaks for them.
Cain said it was troubling that Mitt Romney received fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008 — suggesting that many conservatives did not vote on Tuesday.
Now for a little walk down “Memory Lane” with Herman, who had little trouble with the GOP’s direction in this cycle or last before Tuesday’s election:
Here is Mr. Cain in 2008:
Why I Support Mitt Romney: Leadership Substance
The dynamics of political party connections, the political process itself and public perceptions have once again yielded the top two contenders of each major party in the 2008 presidential race. And once again, the public can only hope that the ultimate winner of the White House will be a candidate with the most leadership substance.
My vote is for Mitt Romney.
Great leaders are born and good leaders keep working on it. We are not favored with an obvious great leader in the 2008 presidential race, as is apparent from the primary process and the results thus far.
But Mitt Romney’s leadership credentials offer the best hope of a leader with substance, and the best hope for a good president who could turn out to be great.
And here he is in 2012, with his endorsement of Romney after the suspension of his campaign:
One way to achieve this goal of a more perfect union is by getting Barack Obama out of the White House,” Cain said. “Throwing our support and energy behind Mitt Romney is a big step in accomplishing this mission.
To me, this “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” at it’s worst. Mr. Cain played and large part in this last campaign and emphatically endorsed the runner-up to the party’s nominee the last time. We are all disappointed as to the results on Tuesday, but feigning despair of the future of the party you were wishing to helm just a few months ago, is too much.
Now that everything is said and done, it’s time to figure out the truly important stuff: Who benefits, duh! (Gotta embrace the new national ethos, right?)
WINNER: Nate Silver, Public Policy Polling, and Pollsters Generally: Surprise! It turns out that professional pollsters know how to do their jobs! Nate Silver and Public Policy Polling especially deserve credit, given the crap that they’ve had to put up with. Many conservative bloggers erupted at them for not telling them what they wanted to hear — but they were right. Mr. Silver’s modeling was highly accurate for the second cycle in a row, and the dreaded PPP nailed this election, calling every state, including Florida, correctly. Marist and Quinnipiac, also slammed by conservatives, were also highly accurate. When I predicted last week that Obama would win reelection and that we’d lose ground in the Senate, almost every single commenter on this site told me that I was buying into the awful biased pollsters and Nate Silver’s nonsense. The lesson here is simple: If you want to criticize a pollster, you need to understand how polling works and then make a specific criticism about the pollster’s methodology. If a poll shows a strong Democratic turnout advantage, it does not mean that the pollster is conspiring against Republicans — it means that more people are telling pollsters that they are Democrats and that they are also likely to vote. Weighting for party ID — ie; what so many people wanted the pollsters to do — is what would have really skewed the polls. Polls showed consistently that Democrats were just as enthusiastic, if not more enthusiastic, about reelecting the president as Republicans were about defeating him — and there’s more Democrats in this country than Republicans. The math is quite simple.
WINNER: Social Liberals: Ballot questions about same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization passed in almost every state that had them. (Oregon rejected a more extreme version of marijuana legalization.) Prominent social conservatives Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost Senate races that should have been easy GOP pick-ups. Is social conservatism viable? Perhaps, but at the very least, it will have to be repackaged. As a 22-year-old, I find it impossible to have conversations about politics with friends who barely follow the news: “Doesn’t Mitt Romney want to ban abortion? Wasn’t there a Republican talking about how he supports rape? Why would anyone vote for someone who doesn’t support gay people?” They won’t even listen to me try to explain the conservative position on a complicated issue like Medicare — they’ve already closed themselves off to the GOP, because they think it tolerates bigotry. Conservative activists need to learn that young people do not choose a party based on a checklist of issues — they examine the parties, usually in their late teens or early 20s, and try to get a general sense of what they stand for. The social issues are the easiest to understand and are the most emotionally-loaded. If the Republican Party is seen as harboring extremists, it will lose young people’s votes — possibly for a generation. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock are not representative of the GOP mainstream — but too many young people look at the party and say “Well, I’m not sure where I am on all the issues, maybe, but I just know that I don’t wanna be in the same party as the guy talking about legitimate rape.” For your average voter, choosing a party is often no more complicated than that. If we want to make gains among young people, we have to actively suppress the candidacies of social-issues extremists.
LOSER: Rasmussen Reports: Scott Rasmussen can no longer be considered a credible pollster. His projections were disastrous. Furthermore, Rasmussen Reports polls should no longer be included in the RealClearPolitics polling average. If Rasmussen wants to win back his reputation, then he should demonstrate in 2014 that he is not just a partisan hack. But in this cycle, every single one of his state polls — both in the presidential race and in the Senate races — showed a pronounced bias toward the Republican candidate, just like they did in 2010. Rasmussen helped create a counterproductive echo-chamber environment amongst conservatives in this cycle — even as credible pollsters like PPP, Marist, and Quinnipiac showed the president gaining, for instance, conservative activists always were able to point to an inaccurate Rasmussen poll as a reason to believe that Mitt Romney still had a chance and that Rasmussen was catching something that the other pollsters, with their flawed turnout models, were missing. But Rasmussen showed a systemic Republican bias, and he needs to be held accountable for it in some way.
WINNER: GOP Up-and-Comers: With the Romney-Ryan 2016 question out of the way, the field is cleared for a new generation of leaders to truly assume command of the national conversation. Expect to hear more from Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, and others — and for a dynamic 2016 primary race to unfold. Despite last night’s wipe-out, it’s an exciting time to be a Republican — for the first time in quite some time, it’s our party that looks like the party of the future. If we can fix our little demographic problem, that is…
LOSER: The GOP, Among Hispanics: Here is the fact that will tell you everything that you need to know: Romney won whites by the same margin that Ronald Reagan did in 1980. He still lost in an electoral landslide. There’s no way around this problem anymore: the electorate was only 72% white this year. We are running out of Joe the Plumbers. We cannot continue to be the party that Latinos perceive as hostile to their race and culture. We can complain all day long about whether that’s fair or accurate — but the problem exists whether he want to acknowledge it or not. It has cost us a variety of races in the past few cycles in states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. George W. Bush was on the right track, earning nearly 40% of the Hispanic vote. If his immigration reform bill had passed, we might have a considerable share of the Hispanic vote right now. But we gave into the Tom Tancredos of the world in 2006, just like Mitt Romney did in 2011 when he ran to the right of Rick Perry for short-term personal gain at the party’s expense. He laid his own trap for the general election. Now this problem persists. Obama is going to tackle immigration reform in his second term. If the Republican Party revolts against it, we may lose the Hispanic vote for an entire generation, and with it, the party as we know it. I anticipate a full-on civil war about this issue in the party within the next two years.
WINNER: Bill Clinton: The rehabilitation of William Jefferson Clinton is complete. There is no more beloved Democrat in the entire country. His excellent convention speech was widely credited with launching Obama into his comfortable September lead, and his preferred strategy of painting Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat rather than a flip-flopper paid off. Romney bested Obama on questions about the economy and deficit — but when pollsters asked whether Romney understood the problems facing the middle class, he was absolutely blown away by the president. Clinton helped Obama to embrace a truth that few politicians truly understand: That most people don’t vote for ideology. They vote for politicians who they think “get” them. Bill Clinton will also be a tremendous asset to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign — both in the primaries (should they matter) and in the general election. If she decides to run, that is…
NEUTRAL: Paul Ryan: Nobody is blaming Paul Ryan for any part of last night’s outcome. He performed admirably as Mitt Romney’s running mate and has seen his national stature elevated. He finds himself in a position much like John Edwards four years ago. Hopefully he can make a bit more of the opportunity — he is an exceptional politician and he deserves to be one of our party’s leaders.
WINNER: Establishment Republicans / LOSER: Tea Party Republicans: The Tea Party continues to rack up losses in the Senate. In the past two cycles, they have cost us Delaware, Indiana, Colorado, and Nevada. (Full disclosure: I supported Mourdock over Lugar. I did not expect him to self-destruct; I will never again support a Tea Party insurgent against a popular incumbent.) Tea Party favorites Allen West and Mia Love both lost; Michele Bachmann had a scare but managed to hang on. Republicans retain control of the House, though. As Obama’s second term begins, I expect Boehner and Cantor’s influence to grow against the more hardline Tea Party elements of the Republican caucus. The country has voted, and elections have consequences. Boehner and Cantor — as well as Ryan — recognize that. My advice to the Tea Party is this: When qualified, articulate, conservative establishment-types like Rubio, Cruz, and Toomey are nominated, they win. When radical ideologues like Sharron Angle, Richard Mourdock, and Christine O’Donnell are embraced, they lose. It’s not too hard to figure out what to do with such information.
OVERALL: I’m trying to find a silver lining for Republicans, but I just don’t see one. Last night was an utter massacre. Yet, this is no time to whine (or to shoot the messenger). It’s time to figure out why we lost — and what we can do about it.
Allahpundit lays it out for us:
The story of the election: Obama turned out his base. As a percentage of the electorate, young voters (18-29) actually increased by a point. So did turnout among Latinos. And turnout among blacks matched 2008. O’s ground game was simply amazing.
I should add, the electorate is growing younger, more secular, more urban, and is increasingly less likely to be married and have children. It is also becoming less socially conservative. Traditional marriage went 0-4 yesterday, and there is no reason to conclude anything other than this is indicative of a trend line that leads to support for gay marriage being majority opinion of the 2016 electorate by a solid margin.
Now please do not misconstrue what I am saying here. I am not arguing that the GOP should abandon its position as the political home for socially conservative voters. What I am saying is that if the GOP does not figure out a way to makes it policies more appealing to young, secular, and minority voters, we can expect more election nights like this one.