Days of Change

Republicans Came to Play

November 7, 2014
1 Comment

I’ve been thinking about the surprising fact that there was only a 1% difference in the number of votes for Senators in 2010 compared to 2008 with a drastically different result. My conclusion is that it has to do with the failings of both the national Republican and Democratic parties.

Democrats like to paint Republicans as some dying minority of throwbacks who are going into the ground more than into the polling booths. Republicans aren’t automatons. They don’t show up to the polls like clockwork, even though they have a higher voting rate. The difference is that they tend to stay home because they are dissatisfied with the choices, not because some Democratic Party boss didn’t get them a free ride to the polls.

When George W. Bush ran for president, he was the closest candidate to Ronald Reagan since Ronald Reagan. He wanted to lower taxes, he talked openly about his faith and he was a governor from a big state. Plus, he was in his mid 50’s when he ran the first time. The losers in presidential elections after Reagan included George H. W. Bush, a government employee who never really held elective office before riding the Reagan wave. There was Bob Dole, who was already in his 70’s and never even a governor. There was John McCain, who was almost a copy of Bob Dole, even picking an exciting running mate like Dole did to try jump starting his campaign. Let’s not forget Mitt Romney, who was at least a former governor in his early 60’s, but his positions were all over the place.

Republicans were stuck with candidates who were moderates, no matter how much the GOP tried to paint them as conservative. John McCain picked a Tea Party running mate by accident and even before there was a Tea Party. That excitement was squashed over weeks as Palin was considered an embarrassment and was admonished from making any provocative statements at rallies where she grew record crowds and was more anticipated than McCain himself. By Election Day, the Republicans who did show up were looking at Sarah Palin’s name as they were pulling the lever for McCain. For Romney, the completely unfocused Tea Party candidate field allowed him to get the nomination, but the base felt played and from the results of the IRS scandal, they may have been.

That’s why midterms are the day of reckoning for Democrats. When faced with an inoffensive Republicans and a minion of Obama, dissatisfaction with the national GOP melts away. Incumbency for Republicans means a familiar face and a known quantity. For Democrats, incumbency means they already voted with Obama 95% of the time.

The only conclusion I can draw then, is that Republicans will win presidential elections when candidates run that Republicans want to vote for, not moderates, or independents or Hispanics or whatever the flavor of the month is. There wasn’t huge Hispanic turnout for Republicans this year and they kicked ass.

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