Friday, May 16, 2008

The GOP’s Credibility Crisis

A few years ago, I had the privilege of speaking to a gentleman who worked for the Gallup Organization. We had a substantive discussion about the business and standards of opinion polling, especially with regard to elections. The gentlemen and I differed on the question of party demographics. Polls weight the responses from people according to a number of demographics in an attempt to show poll results in a context proportional to the real population. This is controversial in terms of party identification, because different polls use different weights. The key question comes down to whether people are quick or reluctant to change their party identification. Also, party identification may or may not be salient to an election’s conduct. Ronald Reagan, for example, was undeniably a Conservative in his politics, yet he won support from many Democrats, Democrats who voted for Democrats in Congressional elections but voted for Reagan as President.

This phenomenon, that party identification may or may not be a factor in support for a candidate in a given election, depends on an often overlooked quality in voters; party identification is not necessarily the same thing as their values. To understand this, let’s look at what’s happened since 2005 to party identification. It’s reasonable, I think, to say that in the last three years a greater proportion of voters consider themselves Democrat, while a smaller proportion of voters consider themselves Republican. Imagine three pools of voters – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. At first they are all roughly the same size, but events cause this to change. First off, the Republican Party chased off its Conservative wing by breaking key promises and abandoning the values which gained it the majority in Congress. Ironically, when in subsequent elections the Republicans lost House and Senate seats, they blamed it on the Conservatives, rather than admit and correct their error. During that same time, the Republican Party began to steadily desert the President , even where his position matched the stated positions of Republican office-holders and candidates; Republicans fell prey to the lie that President Bush was wrong in his policies and appointments, and millions of Americans who supported the President were ostracized by his own party. Alienated by the Republican Party, Conservatives and Bush supporters in large part chose to sit out the 2006 midterm elections, and rather than heed the cost of their folly, the GOP in the main chose to tack hard to the Left, not quite to the point of supporting the madness of Pelosi and Reid, yet not opposing them in force either. Having banished millions of supporters of the President and Conservatives from its ranks, the GOP further emasculated itself in imitation of the Democrats. This clearly reduced public support for the Republicans.

As for the Democrats, their continued success in the media and in the elections held after 2004 have emboldened the party, and there is strong optimism in the DNC that in addition to increasing control of both houses of Congress, they will claim the White House in 2008 to complete the trifecta. Liberals are greatly enthused by the campaign of Barack Obama and other radicals, and the optimism of the party has energized public support. As a result, the situation is one where fewer and fewer voters are willing to publicly voice support for a Republican, and alignment with the Democrats is becoming once again the norm, indicating a return to pre-1994 levels of power and influence.

All is not as it may appear, however. Democrats enjoyed a resurgence in the spring of 2004, which fell as Kerry’s campaign proved to be something less than advertised. Also, the feuding between Obama and Clinton threatens party unity for the fall campaign. But the greatest threat of all lies in assuming that strong party identification for the Democrats will result in comparable gains in the election of the President. I noted the shift in party identification and public support of a political party, but people vote according to their value system, which changes slowly if at all. I mentioned Reagan earlier; Reagan won support from some Democrats because of his strong defense stance, and his common-sense support for American business. In the Presidential race, therefore, the door is open for a candidate to win support outside his party, or at least to consolidate support within his party, by clearly stating where he stands and what he will do.

That said, however, it is clear that at this point the Democrats have build a reasonable degree of unity, even with the fractious debate between Obama and Clinton supporters. The Republicans, on the other hand, have a crisis of credibility, not only with the American public but within their own ranks. There is tremendous opportunity for an amazing comeback, but at the present point in time there is little evidence that the GOP is willing to do what is needed to make that happen.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see McCain winning the Presidency, not because of any support from his own party, (I will not vote for him) but because Obama is utterly un-electable in a general election, even if it were held today. By November, the republicans will have had a field day with him, despite any protestations from McCain. Too, if McCain believes his love affair with the MSM will continue after the dems nomination, he is delusional. To be brutally frank, Obama may carry 90% of the black vote, but that is just not nearly large enough a demographic to put him over the top. There is also now way Obama will win many of the states he won in the primary. South Carolina? No way, no how.

That being said, the republicans are going to get absolutely clobbered in the house and senate. The reason is the republican party has abandoned it's principals, and a lot of the base is just going to stay home. The people are smart enough to sniff out a fake democrat with an 'R' next to their name on the ballot, and they will not be fooled. Many are like myself. I am not rich enough to be a revenue mark, nor am I so poor that I need assistance from the government. I have a job that easily pays my bills, the price of gas is not a big deal to me. From a domestic point of view, I could care less, because pretty much anything .gov does will not impact me in any way. As an American however, foreign policy, the appointment of judges, and taxes are large on my list, as I am sure it is for many others. For this reason I believe that unless there is a dead woman or a live boy in McCain's closet, all he has to do is stay home, and take the oath of office in January. By doing that at least, he won't further p*%^ off his base, and cost himself votes.

Harold C. Hutchison said...

anonymous:

Maybe it's because Congressional Republicans (outside McCain and a few others) let people like Michelle Malkin and Mark Levin call the shots.

Check out this post from Pink Flamingo:
http://thepinkflamingo.blogharbor.com/blog/_archives/2008/5/16/3695304.html

Note where she stands on ths issues. Conservatives should not have to worry about whether or not she is with them. Yet they have managed to tick her off big time.

She's not the only one.

I'm sick of people like Mark Levin, Michelle Malkin, and others acting as if they have a monopoly on principle.

Anonymous said...

Harold,

Principals such as stopping the flow of ILLEGAL entrants to this country? Principals such as limited government that doesn't destroy the American dream with the racism of low expectations? Principals such as a constructionist view of the Constitution and what it says? Principals such recognizing the peoples right to bear arms so they can defend themselves against vile, criminal scum? Principals such as being able to see the global warming hoax for what it is? Principals such as the sanctity of life and not supporting the murder of un-born children? Principals such as recognizing America has real enemies that need to be dealt with such that benefits us and our allies? I could continue for pages, but suffice it to say the nice lady who authors Pink Flamingo is not a conservative nor a republican. She never has been. One does not reach such fantastic conclusions without years of therapy and very strong meds.

Another thing, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, etc. do not have to tell me what to think, nor do they 'call the shots' for anyone, as far as I am aware. A lot of what they say I happen to agree with, but I do not need marching orders from anyone. That is the problem with liberals, they refuse to believe that one can be all grown up and formulate their own opinions and views.

Lastly, I am hardly afraid of people like the Pink Flamingo lady being in the republican party. I don't own it. I am a conservative first, who does not appreciate being labeled a kook and a robot by those who do not share my views. Let the straw men fly, I will light 'em up, but please don't mistake that for intelligent debate.