Monthly Archives: December 2012

Tea Party Continues to Save Republican Party from Itself

Considering none of the best hopes for Republicans in 2014 and 2016 come from national party supported elected officials, it’s unsurprising to sober observers that the Tea Party remains the last best hope for the GOP:

For Republicans who believe the tea party is responsible for the GOP’s struggles, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to choose Rep. Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate would have come as a stunner. The nation’s second Indian-American governor appointed the only African-American who will be serving in the Senate come 2013. And not only are they both Republicans, they are tea party-aligned conservatives who took on the party establishment and won.

It’s ironic that at a time when party strategists are publicly panicking over the party’s need to diversify or face extinction, they’re blind to the reality that if it wasn’t for the much-maligned tea party, the Republican Party would be even more homogeneous than it is today.

Haley, a little-known state senator before being elected governor, would never have had a chance at becoming governor against the state’s good ol’ boy network of statewide officeholders. Scott would have been a long shot in his Republican primary against none other than Strom Thurmond’s youngest son. Marco Rubio, now the hyped 2016 presidential favorite, would have stepped aside to see now-Democrat Charlie Crist become the next senator, depriving the party of one of its most talented stars. Ted Cruz, the other Hispanic Republican in the Senate, would have never chanced a seemingly futile bid against Texas’s 67-year-old lieutenant governor, seen as a lock to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison.

But all those upset victories–all of which at the time seemed shocking–took place because of the conservative grassroots’ strong sentiment for outsiders who campaigned on their principles, and not over their past political or family connections.

The Fight Lives On

The Tea Party handed the majority back to the Republicans in the House of Representatives in 2010 in no small part to their pledge to reduce spending:

[From Dec 2010] Republicans, who captured the House from Democrats in the November election with a net gain of 63 seats, campaigned on a pledge to decrease government spending to 2008 levels. That would require Congress to find $100 billion in cuts next year.

Of course, 10 seconds into his term as Speaker of the House John Boehner began walking away from this pledge and never did cut $100 billion in spending, so the Tea Party abandoned the national politicians and went to work at home changing local offices and state legislatures across the nation.  Michael Barone writes of the latest sea change at the state level, this time in deep blue Washington state:

Early this week two Democratic state senators announced that they would join with Republicans to control the state Senate…The new education committee chairman is a supporter of charter schools and school choice; a Republican will head the health care committee charged with responding to Obamacare. This looks like a rebellion against the left liberalism that has generally prevailed in Olympia…fter Barack Obama’s big victory in 2008, Democrats controlled the Washington state Senate by a 31-18 margin. Republicans gained 4 seats sin 2010 and reduced the Democratic edge to 27-22. After Obama’s littler victory this year Republicans gained another seat this year to reduce the Democratic edge to 26-23, leaving Democrats vulnerable to two defections.

Barack Obama may be holding most of the cards in Washington, D.C. But his party isn’t doing so well in the state capitals.

Hear, hear.

Women, Youth and Hispanics = President Obama

The Winston Group identifies key areas where the Romney campaign came up short in November:

There were three key groups that were problematic for Romney: women, younger voters, and Hispanics.

  • Women made up the majority of the electorate (53%) and Romney lost them by 11, 44-55. That was slightly better than McCain, who lost by 13, 43-56, but worse than Bush, who lost them by the slim margin of 48-51. In contrast, House Republicans in 2010 carried women by 1, 49-48.

  • Younger voters increased their turnout again this year. In 2004 they were 17% of the electorate; in 2008 they were 18%, and in this election they were 19%. Romney lost them by 23 points, 37-60, which was an improvement over McCain, who lost them by 34. However, Bush did much better in 2004, losing young voters only by 9.

  • Hispanics have also increased as a percentage of the electorate, going from 8% in 2004 to 9% in 2008, and 10% in this election. Romney lost them by the very large margin of 44, 27-71. In 2008, McCain lost Hispanics by 36, 31-67. In contrast, Bush lost Hispanics by just 9, 44-53. Additionally, House Republicans in 2010 did much better than either Romney or McCain, losing Hispanics by 22, 38-60.

Conclusion:

Despite an electorate that thought the economy was not doing well under Obama, Romney and many Republicans were unable to effectively win the economic argument. This was the case even though many of the policies Romney supported were viewed favorably by the electorate. But the bottom line was that Romney could not counter the Obama narrative that he wanted to go back to the policies that got the country in trouble in the first place. This was largely due to his campaign’s strategic decision to try to make the election solely a referendum on Obama. As a result, there was little clear rationale for a Romney presidency, other than that he would not be Obama. That was not enough to win, as the electorate was looking for solutions and an explanation of how each candidate would govern.

Obama achieved 93.5% of [the vote] he got in 2008. While there are still some additional votes to be added, at this point, Obama got about 4.5 million fewer votes this year than in 2008. Those voters did not vote for Obama this time, but they did not move to Romney either. They were a huge pool of voters that were obviously unhappy with Obama but did not have a reason to vote for his opponent. The inability to identify and reach these disillusioned voters was a significant problem for the Republican campaign.