Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Learning Election Lessons

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There will be much navel-gazing on the right over the coming months as the analysis of the exit polls begins and a new strategy will be formed, much like what the Democrats did in 2004. And 2004 is instructive here.

The early steam is that Mitt Romney failed to connect with Latinos. Given how vacuous this election was regarding issues and policy, I am not buying the conventional wisdom that it has much to do with immigration directly--don't forget President Obama's epic failure to deliver immigration reform in his first term and how little play he gave it as a policy goal for his second term.

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Anybody else notice how we had to pass Obamacare so we could learn what was in it, and now we've had to re-elect the president to learn what his agenda for a second term is?

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In early 2005, Democracy Corps (Carville, Greenberg, and Shrum) issued an analysis regarding how Democrats could win back white Catholic voters that had voted previously for Bill Clinton, but turned away in increasing numbers from Al Gore and John Kerry. The short of it (not summarized quite like this) was:
Target heterodox Catholics (those who do not meet their Sunday obligation, or who are open to straying from Church teaching regarding pelvic issues, for example) by watering down the heterodoxy and wrapping it in the broader populist language of solidarity, thereby creating an opportunity for those who are happy to rationalize to make themselves feel good about themselves to employ a moral calculus as justification.
Here are a couple examples from the report of how a Democrat candidate seeking the white Catholic vote could position himself as someone who:
  • Wants to repeal President Bush's tax cut for those earning over two hundred thousand dollars a year, in order to increase funding for health care [read: stem cell research] and education, or
  • Is committed to building stronger families by easing the financial burden on parents and promoting prevention [read: contraception] to reduce abortions
Think about it. Isn't this what the president and Democrats effectively have done with Obamacare and so-called gay marriage?

Republicans will have to do the same kind of thing with Latinos (and perhaps a percentage of those heterodox non-Hispanic white Catholics), rather than trying to cobble together a cafeteria plate of policy proposals. And they wouldn't have to embrace heterodoxy to do it. The concern is I'm not sure they have it in them.

I advised my followers on Twitter last night that the next time I wrote a post about the polls being wrong, somebody should punch me in the ear.

So what does this mean? Many many people, including people smarter than me about these things, expected this to be a turnout election. We expected the turnout to be close to even with either a slight edge to Democrats or a slight edge to Republicans. Either way, most were in a agreement that it wouldn't be anything like 2008. We were wrong. Exit polls have it pegged at D+6, fairly close to 2008.

So, what does this mean. It means that Republicans can no longer win national elections by turning out the base alone. They have to start convincing more people that they have the answers. They can no longer continue to write off blacks and Latinos as un-winnable and expect to win. There is just not enough base to do it.

Another lesson is that Catholics just don't care in the slightest about the persecution initiated by this President and about the unborn. Every indication is that Catholics have granted an imprimatur for their own oppression. continue reading...

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