So, is it possible Republicans are trying to lose?

Hands down, the best election blog post on the entire internet this year is Mark Thompson’s What Not Getting It Looks Like.  (And no, this is not just my opinion – it’s a fact. Really. It’s been proven scientifically, in actual laboratories by scientists in white coats, working with bunsen burners and test tubes and one of those glass lightning ball things.)  If you haven’t read it yet, please do.

In that post, Mark wondered at the placement of political billboards by the Republican Party in a stretch of Pennsylvania highways that was sure to backfire and alienate area independents, moderates, and swing voters.  His take on the situation, I believe, summed up most of the GOP’s strategy since Obama’s election four years ago:

“[It]t would seem [that] the Republican Party remains fairly uninterested in what actually matters to voters outside of the party… Instead, it seems to just assume that their problem is merely that people haven’t heard their message, rather than recognizing that it’s a message people outside… aren’t buying.”

I thought about that line this afternoon as I saw Republican strategists and pundits come out of the woodwork to praise Romney’s “secret video” ramblings as a game changer that, if shouted loud enough, will gift wrap this election for the world’s most successful mannequin.

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping example of this was Republican strategist Mary Matalin, who might as well have been her husband James Carville for all the potential damage she did the GOP today:

Yes, you heard that right: Republican strategist Mary Matalin went on moderate-viewer-skewed CNN and said that the political battle the GOP wants to have in the coming 50 days is identifying which half of Americans are producers – and which half are parasites.

I want to repeat and embolden that last part again, because I’ve replayed it five times now and I still can’t believe it: 

GOP strategist Mary Matalin went on CNN and said that Mitt Romney needs to start identifying which half of Americans are “parasites.” 

Matalin is not alone in her call for a hari-kari doubling down, of course.  Michael Walsh of NRO calls the secret tapes Mitt’s Gettysburg moment – and no, he doesn’t mean a moment where Mitt’s walked himself in to a bloodbath that will decimate his ranks.  Says Walsh breathlessly, “This is Mitt’s time, this is his moment.”  Erick Erickson, RedState’s redundantly named managing editor, somehow extrapolates these poll results into the delusional belief that Americans are going to fall in love with recordings of Mitt saying, in regards to half of the country, “my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”  Powerline’s John Hinderaker insists that “the [secretly recorded] private Mitt Romney is a heck of a lot more compelling… than the public version.”

Mind you, Walsh, Erickson and Hinderaker are writing for a very conservatively skewed audience, so perhaps you can write their fantasy musings off to test-ballooning or contrarianism.  But what the hell was Matalin thinking saying that s**t on CNN?

Of all the presidential elections I have ever witnessed, this is by far the strangest – and Romney’s campaign is the most obviously troubled.  Think of all of the moves he has made over the past couple of months, long after having shored up the Republican  nomination:  He picked Paul Ryan, the darling wunderkind of the far right of his base, and he felt forced to do it way too early.  He’s advocated preemptive war against Iran.  He traveled to Europe and insulted them, then travelled to Israel and insulted the Palestinians.  He’s gone above and beyond to paint himself (fallaciously, in my opinion) as the most socially conservative guy in the room.  And now he seems poised to double down on his 47% gaffe, regardless of how it plays out to that part of America that doesn’t get its news from FOX, Limbaugh or Beck.

In other words, he is working his ass off to make sure that the base of his own party is willing to vote for him in November – even though he’s running against an incumbent his party views as the anti-Christ, in a bad economy with high unemployment.

Has this ever happened before in the modern-media age?  Has a major-party Presidential candidate ever had to focus so much energy on getting his own party to be willing to vote for him?  Last November, I would have bet you  many rounds of top-shelf scotch that by now the GOP’s candidate would have been tacking to the center so hard and fast he or she would be breaking all kinds of land-speed records.  But ironically, the only electable candidate of that entire bunch may turn out to be the least electable of all, because his party’s base doesn’t trust him enough to let him tack anywhere but further right.  (And trust me on this – after attending last weekend’s Values Voter Summit I can assure you that the base does not like Mitt Romney, and they do not trust him – at all.)

The most fascinating question after this election is over (presuming Obama doesn’t screw the pooch and lose to a guy no one on either side likes anymore) will be this: When the smoke clears, will the Republican base recognize their hand in sabotaging Romney’s chances?*  Or will they put all the blame on Mitt himself, and decide that alienating even more of the center is the key to future victories?

*With a big assist, it should be noted, by Romney himself.

(H/T to Sully & his crew)

 

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101 thoughts on “So, is it possible Republicans are trying to lose?

  1. Romney was both wrong on the facts and politically foolish. Start with the fact that paying income tax is something we typically do in a specific, well-defined phase of life, and most of us pass through that phase for, oh, roughly half of our lives. It’s hard to imagine turning that fact pattern around and making it about an imaginary social class, but somehow he did.

    I know people won’t believe me when I insist that he deserves to lose, and that I would sooner let the highest office in the land sit vacant than allow him to occupy it. But I would. His crude caricature has done a grave disservice to the idea that, at least on the margins, people might be helped to become more independent of the government.

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      • I think the point was that it’s something that most of us do, but not for 100% of our lifecycle. This is sort of like noting with disapproval that 40% of sick days are taken on Monday or Friday or that half of the population is of below average intelligence.

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      • You know, Duck, if you could just have gotten to the end of the sentence, you might have learned something.

        I wonder if some malevolent force intervened. Perhaps a pair of those Douglas Adams–esque self-tinting sunglasses, tuned not to go dark at the approach of danger, but at the approach of cognitive dissonance?

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          • Are you really this dense?

            47% of folks who filed last year didn’t pay income tax. But if you asked the entirety of the population, “Will it be that you never pay income tax for the entirety of your life?” the percentage who say yes will be a lot lower than 47%. A lot of folks not paying taxes paid throughout their life but are not retired. A lot of folks are currently un- or underemployed and have and will again pay taxes.

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          • Go look at the numbers.

            47% of the populace doesn’t pay federal income tax.

            However–28% of the populace pays payroll taxes while not paying fed. income tax.

            That leaves a remaining 19% or so of people who do not pay any net federal taxes.

            Of that 19% of the populace–about 11% of the populace is elderly or retired–and living on social security–which isn’t taxed. In other words–because they aren’t working–they have no income that is taxable.

            That leaves about 8% of the country left. Of those–about 7% are the working poor who make less than $20k/year and thus do not make enough money to pay federal taxes. Certainly, a portion of that populace is in that position because they have dependent children and can use Ronald Reagan’s baby–the Earned Income Tax Credit. But were still talking here about around 5% of the entire population that might be doing that.

            5% is not the same as 47%.

            Data for this from this handy-dandy graph

            http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/federal-taxes-households.cfm

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            • The 5% who pay zilch and 28% who don’t give a damn about the other guy’s tax rate are plenty enough to swing an election. And of course, Romney was simply ballparking the type of folks whose votes he has little shot at.

              That there’s people with a certain attitude toward taxes that Romney can’t reach is uncontroversial. Anyone around here who speaks of “the rich” in that usual negative way ain’t voting GOP now or ever.

              If, you know, anyone is actually interested in what Romney was saying.

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              • But it is factually wrong for Romney to assume or pretend that he has “little shot” at the vote of members in any of those groups. There are a great number of folks who pay no federal income tax who are reliable Republican voters. And Romney just shat all over them.

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              • Perhaps if Republicans have an issue with 28% of the people having so many deductibles and tax credits that they do not pay any income tax, they should _stop making every proposal into a tax credit_. ‘Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this.’ ‘Well, then stop doing it.’

                I mean, deductibles and tax credits are just a scam to keep the poor from getting any benefit from the law, because they rapidly hit the floor of ‘0’. You give a rich person $7000 tax credit for buying an electric car, they get ~$2000 less taxes. You give a poor person a $7000 tax credit, they get $100 less taxes, because they don’t have any more taxes to apply it for. And then you bitch and moan they don’t pay any taxes. This makes no sense at all, and it’s how the _Republicans_ set this shit up.

                Here on the left, I rather suspect we’d be much happier if you just _gave_ everyone who was eligible the ~$2000, in cash.

                Same with earned income tax credit, which, I must point out, is a rather deliberate way to give out welfare to employed people, as part of welfare reform, and the Republicans loved it…except, apparently, now it’s made everyone’s taxes bottom out.

                You can’t whine and bitch about how the government is giving out money, and change it all to tax credits, and then whine and bitch about how no one’s paying taxes.

                Meanwhile, I must point out that payroll tax is 15% of income, although not technically ‘income tax’. And what rate did Mitt Romney just pay? Oh, that’s right, he had to rig his tax to get all the way up to 14%. But capital gains tax, of course, is legally defined as ‘income tax’, whereas payroll tax is not.

                And while I’m not sure if Romney pays payroll tax (Is that on all income or does it not include capital gains?), it’s capped at a very very low threshold, which means that, even if he did have to pay it, it would be something like 0.1% of his income.

                Obvious solution: Legally define payroll tax as part of ‘income tax’. Tada, more than half of the freeloaders people out there instantly stop freeloading and pay the same income tax rate as Mitt Romney! Woo!

                Next step: Raise social security payments by 15%, put a payroll tax (Which now counts as income tax.) on them of 15%! We can automatically deduct it from their payments, like normal income! It just imaginarily goes to them, and then magically ends up back in social security. Now _they’ve_ stopped freeloading also!

                Conclusion: Every person who talks about what percentage of people pay ‘income tax’ is an idiot. The vast majority of people who don’t pay ‘income tax’ either _do_ pay ‘taxes on income’ that mysteriously isn’t defined as ‘income tax’, or they are living off their social security, and it’s complete gibberish to assert that they should pay taxes on the money the government is paying them, because all that would result in is the recalculation of benefits and them ending up with exactly as much money.

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      • True, but ONLY If you confine yourself to FEDERAL INCOME TAX. As was well noted all over the intertubes yesterday, that 47% still pay payroll taxes for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (unless they are retired and draw out of the system the PAID Into their whole working lives). Much of that 47% also pay state income taxes, state sales taxes, and and local property taxes. Saying that 47% of Americans are parasites because they don’t pay ONE KIND OF TAX is like saying XX% of Americans are parasites because the ONLY drink lite beer.

        And, I’d note that Mitt and his rich donors are also, technically, part of that 47% in that the majority of his “income” is taxed as capitol gains, so he doesn’t, in fact, pay much federal income tax either. If any at all.

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          • DD–a lot of people who don’t pay income tax are taking advantage of Republican tax initiatives, such as the Earned Income Credit (started by Reagan, expanded under Bush II) and the child credit. So, for instance, a family of five, earning $50,000 a year, especially if they have a mortgage, could very well end up paying no federal income tax, although obviously they pay a wide variety of other taxes. I doubt Mitt would lump them in with the unworthy 47 percent of mooches who he can’t convince to take responsibility for their lives, but nonetheless they are.

            Is Mitt proposing to get rid of the EIC so these people pay federal taxes? Don’t think so, but since he’s never really told us how he’d pay for all his tax cuts, who knows. It may be part of the specifics he hasn’t bothered to share with voters.

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      • NOw, DD, just hold on one cottonpickin’ minute.
        AIN”T you one of the shmoos saying that it’s ALL RIGHT with Romney gamin’ his taxes
        so’s he’s gotta pay less??????

        I OBJECT very strongly to the fact that’s it’s okay for HIM, but not OKAY for me to take advantage of those CAPITAL GAINS TAXCUTS that make the FAIR AND HONEST TAX 0%!!!@!

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  2. The Conservative media and blogosphere is made up of True Believers. They have been saying what Mr. Self Made said for years. When liberals pointed out out this kind of guff that springs from the pie hole of Rush, etc we get told they are just entertainers and aren’t the Republican party. Well they are most of the party. A pol can tack to the center but he can’t leave his party behind. Nobody knows what Mr. Self Made believes, but i have no reason to doubt he probably believes most or all of what he said. Its better to have it out in the open so we can stop pretending there are any sort of non-rabid R’s left in power in the R party. He is simply representing his party.

    One of my favourite comments from Mr. Self Made was his crack about how it would be easier for him to get elected if he was Latino. I’m sure the True Believers won’t quite get why Latino’s won’t be moving into the R column all that soon.

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  3. There’s a somewhat unusual form of bridge scoring called board-a-match. Two teams play against each other. In one room, team A has the north-south hands and team B the east-west hands. In the other rooms it’s reversed. The goal is to see who can do the best with the same cards the opponents hold, and there are only three possible results: A wins, B wins, or a tie. If you win, it doesn’t matter if it’s by ten points or by thousands, and likewise if you lose. So if you can see that you’ve screwed up the bidding and let your opponent into a winning contract, you should double them. It’s a desperate move, but a logical one: If they make the contract, you’ve lost anyway, and if they go down, you want to maximize their loss. And you’re muddying the waters by bidding more strongly than your hand warrants.

    The GOP is making a desperation double.

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  4. Well, it’s your party now! ;)

    But remember that well publicized gaffe by his campaign guy about shaking up the etch-a-sketch? Apparently he believed Romney would be tacking to the center, too. I wonder if he’s shaking his head in wonder just as you are?

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  5. I said four years ago that the GOP would have to get worse before it got better. This is certainly worse than it wad in 2008, although it actually got worse in ’08 than I thought. (McCain on torture, Palin going rogue).

    The true believers will remain convinced that what they need to do is nominate a REAL conservative instead of someone wishy-washy and flip-floppy like Mitt. Or that the Democrats cheated their way to victory and therefore didn’t really win at all.

    Meanwhile Democrats will run the show. Please note that I used the word “Democrats” and not the word “liberals.” It’ll be pretty much like it is now until the GOP figures out that ideological purity is not the way to build a governing coalition.

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  6. Well, lets see what the poles say over the next week, as every other thing that was supposed to kill Romney seems to have only made him stronger…

    (I say that having been watching the poles on RCP over the last couple of months, and Romney seems to be slowly moving up.)

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  7. In the past, there has been a 40% voter consistency for both parties, meaning that 40% will vote dem and 40% will vote repub…no matter who runs. So the elections tend to be run by the 20% that are the swing voters. Why, then, would any candidate fight hard to get the guaranteed 40% rather than look towards the 20% that really determine the election? Mitt and the republicans seem to be so focused on energizing the base that they forget where their bread is truly buttered.

    To further the point on how much of a landslide the Obama election of 2008 was, look at the popular vote. 52.9% vs. 45.7%. Take out the 40% for each side, and you have Obama winning 12.9 to 5.7 of the available 20% left over…that’s a large margin. With Mitt making refusing to show his taxes and making inflammatory remarks, I really wonder if he can get even the 5.7% that McCain was able to garner.

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      • Dream on TVD – Mr. Romney offers only stupidity; calling retiree’s as dependents on government handouts is just intentional ignorance. Also, most the people who ‘don’t pay income taxes’ or the 46% (again. Mr. Romney doesn’t even get that right!) do pay SS/Med and that runs 13% of their income. Almost what Mr. Romney pays the Fed. I guess Mr. Romney is one of the parasites by his own definition. What a stupid comment.

        President Obama wins this one easily assuming the real parasites (religious nutcases that murder babies with their abstinence only education that INCREASE abortions) finally wake up, act like Christians and vote real pro-life – the democratic ticket.

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      • Repeating “Obama bad” over and over again seems to constitute the bulk of Republican strategy this go round. All well and good, but what are you going to do better? All Romney has offered in Bush II warmed over–not exactly attractive. I haven’t been happy with a lot of what Obama has done, particularly on civil liberties issues, but I surely don’t want to double down on the policies that brought us to this point. Romney/Bush III will finish the job of bankrupting the country and killing off the middle class.

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        • I’d say Romney is selling Bush Jr.’s first term supercharged, not just warmed over. (Warmed over might actually sell, sadly.)

          Bush Jr. wouldn’t have proposed Romney/Ryan’s budget, IMO. (I think the Bush clan would’ve actually thought it to be bad for the country, and that’s the best compliment I can think of for the Bushes.) He wouldn’t have gone after the 47% of the country who are apparently worse than Bin Laden (but then again he didn’t go after Bin Laden either, so…). Bush Jr. was too willing to compromise on immigration. He worked too willingly with Ted Kennedy on education reform, etc.

          Romney and his supporters really do think that Bush Jr. needed to be more Bush Jr., and less mamby pamby Bush Sr. who didn’t “take out” Saddam, who didn’t cut taxes enough, who compromised too much. Yeeeeeehaaaaw!!!!!!!!! (Sorry that “yeehaw” is part of the cognitive content of the propositions that Romney is trying to get people to accept.) They really need we need someone to be more Bush-like than Bush. (They now believe that was true of Reagan, which is a joke. Reagan is a centrist, Bill Nelson-y Democrat now.)

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    • W.
      Why, then, would any candidate fight hard to get the guaranteed 40% rather than look towards the 20% that really determine the election?

      Because while that 40% will vote for you if they bother to go to the polls, it’s not guaranteed they’ll go to the polls. There’s a balancing act (that Romney may not be accomplishing).

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  8. “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”

    “They have more money.”

    “And they’re sociopaths.”

    “That goes without saying.”

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  9. Yeah, Romney is obviously planning for a base election. Honestly, there’s also a populist argument that isn’t far from what he said too. I used to call it the “bums vs. good folks” argument. My grandparents would have loved that 43% bit. Actually, probably my father and the guys he worked with would have liked it. I’m pretty sure that most senior citizens would agree with Romney too. So, maybe he’s right and it’ll blow over.

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  10. I’m not thrilled with what Mitt said but I understand the point he was trying to make. Regardless, even with all of this going on the President still has lousy approval ratings and a less-than-impressive lead in the polls. After the embassy attacks his foreign policy numbers dropped slightly. The Presidency is an albatross. My anecdotal experience is that I haven’t heard a single person inclined to vote Republican that is considering Obama. I have heard more than a few people who usually vote left who are reconsidering their vote in 2008. Their biggest complaint is that the GOP hasn’t given them a sure alternative.

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  11. Note: Not that anyone has done this here but! If you see someone arguing out there in the wild that the true parasites are the (group) and we need to address *THAT*?

    They’re conceding the exact wrong part of Romney’s argument. That’s not the thing they want to be on record saying.

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  12. Romney could and should have ignored the 2010 whiplash. Others have observed the Tea Party isn’t the GOP base. I might be wrong here, but as many old-line Republicans lost seats as Democrats in 2010.

    Had someone within the Romney campaign told the GOP party the truth; that the GOP was concentrating its message on wealthy donors and not on voters, he would be in a very different position today. But that’s all he’s ever known, Romney, raising money from wealthy people. He’s great at this part of campaigning. Money-wise, Romney’s in very good shape. But he just can’t budge the voters. However much they hate Obama, they just don’t love Mitt Romney.

    Romney’s message is confused. Too many dogs walked back, too many missed steps. No respect for ordinary people. That’s the most damning part of this video: had he pointed out that the independents weren’t the only potential voters in play, that a far larger segment of the nation is unhappy with Obama’s track record, that he could offer up some of the famous Hope and Change Sauce which won the last presidential election, just with a Conservative spice to it, he could not only make the wealthy happy, but win over erstwhile Obama supporters, too.

    But that’s not the sermon he’s preaching. Romney actually believes the poor deserve their fate, that there is a Moocher Society out there. Well, hark, hark, the dogs do bark, the beggars are coming to town. Some in rags and some in tags and some in velvet gowns. Gummint Largesse benefits the wealthy, too. There’s no crime in that: someone’s industries have to fulfil those contracts. But damn, folks, if Romney/Ryan don’t get their heads screwed on and come to grips with how to win elections, that is to say, appeal to a larger base, they’re doomed.

    And it’s a damned shame, it is. Obama needs a wakeup call. Confronted with a genuine organic Conservative with actual Conservative plans, Obama would be forced to Get Right. But he’s not being so confronted. All he has to do is play it safe, play to Romney’s weaknesses and win this election by the narrowest of margins. He won’t have to admit he’s failed to keep many of his promises and he won’t be driven to make honest reforms for the good of the nation, which is all the Ackshul Fackshul Conservatives have been asking from anyone.

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    • he just can’t budge the voters

      And that’s not new. The only election he’s won was against a noticeably weaker opponent who came across as one of the Massachusetts Democratic Party hacks in the state legislature that the voters of Massachusetts don’t much care for. Other than that he just burns millions on election campaigns he loses.

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    • Romney actually believes the poor deserve their fate, that there is a Moocher Society out there.

      If you’re concluding that based upon the videos at the fund raiser I fear you may be making a mistake. First and foremost, Romeny says whatever he thinks needs to be said to the audience presently in front of him in order to win the election in which he’s presently running.

      Romney is a carpet bagging opportunist.

      I think the record shows that you can’t trust anything he says while campaigning to be a true reflection of what he himself thinks about any political ideology.

      That’s why the “Etch-A-Sketch” comment stings so deeply.

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      • Nobody should trust a politician running for office. Ever. Even if he seems like a Good Guy, he’s not. The only person you should ever trust in the presence of government is your own lawyer.

        That said, a Carpetbagging Opportunist can be your best friend in government. Look at Bill Clinton. Here is a man who would say anything to anyone at any time. I know two lobbyists (well, I used to drink with them in Bethesda MD) who worked opposite sides of the same bill. Met Clinton in the Oval Office on the same day. Clinton told ’em both exactly what they wanted to hear. The depth and breadth of dishonesty in that Babylon-upon-the-Potomac is breathtaking. Best to take very shallow breaths. Or evolve a low oxygen strategy like a carp in stagnant water.

        If politicians told the folks the truth, nobody would ever get elected. Can you imagine a politician saying

        “Now hear this, folks. I’ve craved political power all my life. I love the little perqs which come with that lifestyle. I’m backed by several important power brokers downstate who I’ve cravenly served for some years now, you know them all. In my heart, I really do want to serve the people of this state, do what’s right, make important decisions on your behalf. My opponent, feckless idealist that he is, thinks he’s gonna drag my name through the mud and call me fake. Ha friggin’ ha. I’ve been in the mud of politics since I was stapling faxes for the local ward heeler. I’m made of mud. Pigs could get a postgrad degree in mud from me.

        “Last thing you want from me is honesty and I’m happy to oblige your little illusions. But when it comes to this state and its people, I’ve been a public servant long enough to get promotions from shovelling shit at a county level to running a shit backhoe downstate and now, if it’s all the same with you, I want to run part of the biggest shit shovelling enterprise in the world, the US Congress. Now that’s honesty of a sort you will not get from my opponent, acting all prissy about shovelling shit. It’s a filthy job, no place for a man with ideals. It’s all about compromise and doing the best I can in a terrible situation where it’s every hog for himself. I’m your hog, folks, wearing a nice pressed suit today and shiny shoes. But at heart, I’m a man of mud. Just like you.”

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  13. From Peggy Noonan’s WSJ blog:

    “…in a year the Republican presidential candidate almost couldn’t lose…”

    I’ve read that same assumption from a number of conservatives, but it’s incorrect. When the public approval rating for Congress is essentially at the level of “kill ’em all,” and the president’s approval rating is higher, it seems clear that the public on both sides of the philosophical debate believe the “bipartisan” (i.e., not solely Democratic) Congress is performing poorly. That does not reflect on the president, only on his ability to get things done in Congress. Which, as most voters actually do know, is not because Democrats are obstructing the president’s programs.

    The “slam-dunk win” assumption Noonan and other conservatives make is based on their belief that most voters are completely blind to Congressional GOP intransigence. While most of us don’t have the time or interest to hash through the minutiae of legislative processes, we are aware that little has gotten done – and we know why. The GOP itself has told us why -loudly, consistently and somehow unashamedly – for 4 years now.

    Obstructing government assistance is a poor campaign strategy when a record number of voters find themselves in need of a safety net. A belligerent foreign policy is anathema to people who have experienced 11 years of unpopular, costly war. Refusing to regulate a financial system that nearly destroyed the world economy is plain insanity.

    Romney “…almost couldn’t lose”? Only if you really believe the majority of average voters haven’t been hurt by GOP policy, and aren’t listening to the GOP even now.

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    • This.

      I also think that lots of people don’t think that the economy was better for them during the Bush years.

      Sure, unemployment is higher now than, say 2004. And sure the economy is struggling by lots of metrics. But lots of people don’t see those numbers. Lots of people see them and don’t care that much.

      Indeed lots of people really don’t feel the effects of the bad economy, to the extent that it is bad right now. Interest rates are amazing to buy a car or a new house. House prices are reasonable for people looking to buy. The value of housing has climbed back to reasonable levels, meaning lots of owners feel fairly safe in their long term investment. The stock market has doubled and is now back to decent value. Gas prices aren’t horrible. Consumer electronics are easier to buy.

      And lots of people who don’t have a job now (the recession hit unskilled labor hard and elsewhere much less) didn’t have a great job under Bush.

      So people answer the question “Is the economy bad?” with a yes, because they see stories on CNN and they are aware of the problems in the economy as a whole. But the idea that a vast majority of voters would just march in and vote for anyone but Obama because their lives seemed so much worse now than under Bush is just way off.

      The poor who are hurting the most, weren’t doing much better before. (And Romney is offering them jack.) And the middle and upper classes weren’t hit that hard and are recovering pretty well.

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  14. Having watched the California Republican Party for a couple of decades, I would say that this is pretty much a certainty. If Romney loses, the vast majority of the party will be certain, not just believe, but be absolutely certain, that the problem was that he wasn’t conservative enough. And they will want to go with someone substantially more conservative next time.

    They simply cannot get their heads around the idea that their ideas are not what the majority of Americans want. At most, they try to define “real Americans” as people who agree with them, just so they don’t have to face the reality.

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    • It’s what happens to a political party after it’s held the dominant political paradigm for decades. The members don’t notice as the ideology goes from being revolutionary to sclerotic, and so as their ideology becomes less and less popular the remaining members are those who most zealously hold the old ideology. Each time there’s yet another loss and yet more former party members vanish those who are left are yet again those who hold the old ideology the most zealously (& since they’re often or usually from safe districts they don’t realize their iedology has become the problem).

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  15. Well, it took Britain’s Labour Party quite a while of losing consistently before they retooled, and it was likewise a while of losing to Republicans before the Democrats became more centrist. I don’t see any reason to think that those who have successfully driven out the moderates they castigate as RINO’s (even though for decades moderate Republicans defined what being a Republican was) would wake up quickly after a Romney loss and realize they are in any way at fault and need to repent.

    I expect this ugliness to go one for more cycles before either:

    – the GOP finally comes to its senses, or

    – it shrinks into obscurity as a fringe minor party for American right wing fundamentalists (of a variety of types), never winning elections but p0pulated by those comforted in the knowledge that they and they alone possess the pure, true faith.

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  16. Kelly writes: When the smoke clears, will the Republican base recognize their hand in sabotaging Romney’s chances?* Or will they put all the blame on Mitt himself, and decide that alienating even more of the center is the key to future victories?

    I think it overwhelmingly likley they will blame Mitt. If you look at Republican candidates since 1980, four of them (Reagan and GW Bush, both twice) were considered conservatives by the base of their time. They all won. Four were considered as the moderate by the base. GW Bush was the moderate altnerative to the more conservative Reagan in 1980. Dole was clearly seens as more moderate than either Forbes or Buchanan. McCain was the moderate alternative to GWBush in 2000. Of these four the score has been 1 win and 3 losses. In this election the GOP is again running with the candidate percieved as more moderate and it looks like Mitt is going to lose. If so that gives a 100% success rate for conservatives versus a 20% success rate for moderates since 1980.

    I expect the base will decide, we need to give the true conservative a chance. And so they might run someone like Ryan or Santorum, someone whom the bases agrees is suitably conservative and see what happens.

    In 2016 they will not face an incumbant. The two term and its time for a switch rule will apply after eight years of Obama, giving the GOP an edge. 2016 will be 8-9 years after the end of the last expansion. Although the business cycles of the 1960’s, 1980’s and 1990’s ran this length or longer, the ones in the 1970’s and 2000’s were shorter. If the current cycle falls inot the second category, then we will likely again be in recession in 2016 and unemployment will have been rising in recent months. All three of these issues favor the GOP. If the GOP runs a conservative and wins, this will feed into the idea that conservatives win and moderates lose. Only of the conservative loses in 2016 (in which case the Dems will have elected three presdients in a row, somehting that hadn’t done since 1948 and matching the GOP achievement in 1988) will there be a groundswell for a re-examination of party ideology wrt to the ability to win at the national level.

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  17. My personal theory is that Obama is using supernatural powers to control Romney’s brain. Having considered the options it’s the only plausible explanation. He must have dug out some ju ju spell books from his African ancestors. Whatever the media and bloggers say to keep us clicking this race looks over to me. It’s hard to say what the consequences will be if the Republicans lose badly which I define as failing to gain the senate, losing quite a lot of house seats and of course the presidency but it’s going to be ugly. The hard right are as entangled around the vital organs of the GOP as Kudzu and likely as impossible to eradicate at least in the short term. At the very least we’re looking at a long period of serious dysfunction. To take one example. The house has to pass certain legislation and if Boehner has a much narrower majority (in single figures perhaps) he’s going to have to use Democratic votes to pass it which means compromises which are anathema to the hard right are inescapable.

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