Christians and the Republican Primary

The following is a post I put up at RedState that I probably should have put some more thought in to, but think I have encapsulated it fairly well.

—-

&#8220It is a lot easier to tear down the guy who is running as the super Christian than it is to out Christian him.&#8221

The Tuesday defeat of Ralph Reed has, I think, been interpreted by a lot of people inside and outside the press as a defeat of a conservative by a moderate. Compound Reed’s loss with Kay Goodwin’s loss down in South Georgia — both of whom the Christian Coalition supported — and you have a rejection of evangelical conservative at the hands of the fiscal conservative/social liberal (read: moderate).

In the past couple of days I have heard more and more people say that this Georgia election signaled a change — it was going to transform the Republican party. The Christian zealots who controlled the party were going to be pushed out by the metropolitan, Atlanta Republicans who are more concerned with tax cuts and business issues than social conservative drudgery.

The pundits and prognosticators are wrong. There was no revolution, it was the same old, same old.

Ralph Reed and Kay Goodwin lost, not because they were the evangelical candidate, but because they were poseurs. This reminds me of a race I ran in 2002. My guy, on the advice of several (including Ralph Reed), ran as the Baptist minister whose primary income was from a publishing company that specialized in sunday school materials for Baptist Churches. We spent months working churches, home schoolers, and other evangelicals. In the end, the opponent found one piece of information that went to my guy’s credibility as an evangelical conservative, and blew him out of the water. Though the information was not quite accurate, the response was too late and too weak to do any good. It was not that the opponent’s base got out and voted, it’s that my guy’s supporters stayed home when presented with negative information about their preferred candidate.

And thus it is with Christian conservatives across the country and thus it was with Ralph Reed and Kay Goodwin. For some reason, there are always candidates who think that to run as a social conservative they have to play up to evangelicals on issues that only evangelicals care about. They rally the faithful and pack the churches. But in doing this they expose their achilles heel.

All an opponent has to do is cast reasonable doubt on the character of the evangelical candidate and that candidate’s base will stay home. You convince a strong Christian that his preferred candidate has serious character flaws and the Christian is not going to vote for a man shown to be of morally poor character. And that’s what happened in Georgia.

The Republicans saw pitiful turnout in the primary. I frankly do no believe it was so much that the Cagle supporters turned out as the Ralph Reed opponents turned out. And the Reed supporters? Most of them, good Christian men and women who vote with their faith first, had their faith shattered in the man they felt was one of their own. As Peggy Noonan wondered today,

Is he a Christian who went into politics, or a politician who went into Christianity?

Well, I think a lot of Reed supporters, after this election, would say he was a politician first and a Christian second.

Kay Goodwin had the same story. A hero to the politically active evangelical set, it came out that Goodwin had been bullying her way around the Georgia Capitol as a lobbyist and had delinquent tax issues. She proved herself of unfit character and the Christians who might have gotten her elected did not turn out.

At the end of the day, pundits, particularly those in Georgia, should drop the canard that moderates won and that Republicans will have low turnout in November. Neither is true. Conservatives beat both Ralph Reed and Kay Goodwin. Evangelicals who told Ralph Reed they would vote for him just stayed home, instead of breaking their word and voting for the other guy. But they’ll be there in November.

The moral of all of this for an evangelical running for office is to run as a conservative, not an evangelical. Talk about conservative issues and let your values shine through. Be humble and don’t make your values the issue. After all, in a race of multiple conservatives, it is a lot easier to tear down the guy who is running as the super Christian than it is to out Christian him.

51 comments

  1. Chris says:

    Interesting analysis. Do you think Christian zealots have an untenable hold on the Republican party?

  2. GAWire says:

    I agree with Erick’s analysis … the core conservatives of the GOP (nationwide) are social, religious, etc conservatives, particularly Christians. I don’t call them zealots – they are just people who vote based on what they believe is right.

    I also would like to clarify that my opposition to Ralph Reed has nothing to do with being against religious conservatives. Most of you long time PP readers know that I am conservative on all issues, including social issues, religious issues, etc, i.e. see my posts on abortion, etc. I am, however, tough on religious conservatives, many of whom I work closely with in the past, b/c they/we have fallen short. We care, but many times fail to act. That is our problem.

    So, I don’t believe religious conservatives have been eliminated from influence within the GOP. I do, however, think that we have not mobilized well enough. We often talk big, but fail to back it up.

    If you look at the data, I think many people would be very surprised at how conservative the country truly is, as per how people identify themselves. Why do you think we are debating stem cell legislation, the pledge, ten commandments, overturning roe, gay marriage, etc? It’s because those are the issues that most of the country wants to hear about. Should we focus more effort on the war? Maybe. Should we think about the economy before social issues? Perhaps. But, politicians are not stupid, and they know what voters want to hear about.

    No, Christian conservatives are not gone – they are the core of the GOP.

  3. caroline says:

    Why do you think we are debating stem cell legislation, the pledge, ten commandments, overturning roe, gay marriage, etc? It’s because those are the issues that most of the country wants to hear about.

    No, it’s what the Republican base wants to be voted on. The other 2/3 of the country isn’t interested if you look at the polls.

  4. rugby_fan says:

    “If you look at the data, I think many people would be very surprised at how conservative the country truly is, as per how people identify themselves”

    You’d be more suprised to see that for about 60 years (including 04) more people identified themselves as Democrats.

    Also, Dems still do hold an ever ao slight majority nationwide. The number (if I remember) of nationwide elected officials is 1800 dems to 1796 gop.

  5. Chris says:

    No, those are issues that get people’s dander up, but have little impact on the direction of this country. I’ll tell you one of the reasons liberals have come to loathe the Christian right: The Christian right claims to speak for God in the public square (a blasphemous act) and attempts to deny (angrily and vehemently) the two most important laws of Christianity: Love God with all your heart, and Love your neighbor as yourself.

    The God on display in the public square is an angry vengeful God that is turning people away from religion in droves. When the Christian politicians start recognizing the truths about Christ and His message, and start embracing those truths in public, then you’ll see growing respect for them from the general public. But this crap about what hot button issues concern people most is an exploitation of their faith that divides and galvanizes people, tearing people of faith apart on the inside.

  6. Bull Moose says:

    Okay, I really hate to do this, but guys, please, the over politicalzation of the Christian movement was so used and abused, it became absurd.

    You know, your faith should be demonstrated by your actions, not your words.

    What happened was that Ralph Reed, because his actions were so out of step with Christian values, had no choice but to hammer away with his faith with words. Ralph lobbied on behalf of the Northern Mariana Islands to protect sweat shops from labor law protections. He wrapped that in faith. He lobbied to close down competing casinos. He wrapped that in faith. Even with online g*mbling, somehow being against it meant taking a Christian position.

    As well, Ralph’s own actions to volunteers, party leaders, and the such were not that of a true Christian. Maybe it was the stress, but on more than one occassion Ralph was seen or heard chewing someone out for not doing enough or for, of all things, saying Casey was a nice guy. Then, in the final days, some of his most zealous supporters began threatening Cagle supporters.

    It all became a little absurd. Let’s not forget that Ralph Reed is still a central figure in the ongoing corruption of Congress investigation, having participated in flushing money through various sham non-profits and such. It’s still an open subject and who knows what will happen.

    Had I been Ralph, I don’t think I would have run for office until all of this was settled. But I think once he was in, there was no way out.

    The Reed supporters demonstrated that they are some of the most loyal in politics. That is a good quality, if only the candidate that they supported had been honest and loyal to them it wouldn’t be so upsetting to everyone.

    It is really pointless to continue to debate this topic. The primary is over and Casey Cagle is the victor. Regardless of what you say, he ran a positive campaign that focused on the issues at hand. Whether you want to accept it or not, character is a central issue as to who we elect in office.

    Those of us that worked so hard to the point of absolute exhaustion did so because we REALLY liked Casey and believed in what he said and what he wanted to do in office. Casey was different. Casey was authentic. Casey was believable. Yeah, he wasn’t smooth or polished, but you know what, that was so refreshing! He was REAL. He opened up about his family, how he grew up, his struggles, and his successes. He was genuinely excited to be with people and to share with them things that made him excited, like the day his son hit one of his best games of golf, you saw the real passion of a proud father.

    For most of us, there was not really an anti-Reed sentiment to our support for Casey. We were proud of our candidate just as some of the Reed supporters were proud of theirs.

    But, really, let’s focus on November 7 and winning on that day. Primaries are important, but they are only a warm-up to what matters. I’m glad that we have people like Debbie on our side and not the Democrats side!

  7. GOPeach says:

    Bull wrote:

    ” Had I been Ralph, I don’t think I would have run for office until all of this was settled. But I think once he was in, there was no way out.”

    It is settled! The rhetoric was unsettling.

    See… even you heard the sound bites so many times you also believe
    what Casey was saying is true. It is sad hat you guys still think Ralph is
    guilty.

    Bottom line:

    If Ralph Reed was guilty, he would have been charged!!
    Does anyone on PP know the law????? This is basis.

    This is why the lawyers are upset with Cagle. Ralph Reed is not going
    anywhere but up. Remember Abraham Lincoln lost his first race.

    From Abramoff to Abraham!

    Also ….not to “go Biblical ” on you …

    But Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and thrown into the pit.
    Only to be raised up into amazing political power. You can not keep
    a good man down for long.

    Every slammed a basketball down really hard on the gym floor?
    It will bounce back up over the head that slammed it!

    REED for Governor 2010!

  8. landman says:

    Peach,
    reed for Governor….you have got to be kidding.It was the Georgia Republican voters who slammed the ball .

  9. Michael C says:

    Did GoPeach just compare Jack Abramoff to Abrahm Lincoln?

    I will “go Biblical” here. Luke 17:3 says

    “Be careful. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him.”

    Reed has bot repented for his sins and the voters rebuked him. Christian Conservatives rebuked him.

  10. larry smith says:

    Actually, the ball won’t bounce back up at all if you slam it down so hard that it loses its air and lays on the ground like a deflated, useless memory of something that used to be a basketball.

  11. JaseLP says:

    “The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.'” – Barry Goldwater

  12. Bull Moose says:

    GOPEACH – Um, the investigations are ONGOING… Meaning, they are still underway. The US Senate Finance Committee has even started holding hearings yet on the abuses of the non profits. I’m sorry that it hurts your feelings, but this is far from settled…

  13. Big Mack says:

    In reply to Chris’ question, ” Do you think Christian zealots have an untenable hold on the Republican party?” it should be pointed out that for every sanctimonious Bible thumping pseudo politician in either party, there is at least one long time (since 1962 in my case) political hack that spends all day every day trying to cut their throats. Just because a god speaks to them in the middle of the night does not mean that it is the real God.

  14. BahamaBoy says:

    GOPeach says: “Bottom line: If Ralph Reed was guilty, he would have been charged!! Does anyone on PP know the law????? This is basis. This is why the lawyers are upset with Cagle. Ralph Reed is not going anywhere but up.”

    Let’s take those one-by-one.

    1. If Ralph Reed was guilty, he would have been charged — The fat lady hasn’t sung, so it ain’t over yet. Indictments and more civil lawsuits may be just around the corner.

    2. Does anyone on PP know the law — Uh . . . well, yes. Actually, I only have 23 years of legal experience, but I’ll put that up against being married to a judge any day.

    3. This is why the lawyers are upset with Cagle — I’m a lawyer and I’m not upset with Cagle. I was upset that Reed was trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes with his false assertions during the campaign. And I know plenty of other lawyers who feel the same.

    4. Ralph Reed is not going anywhere but up — Uh . . . you mean up the river?

  15. GAWire says:

    >>”””You’d be more suprised to see that for about 60 years (including 04) more people identified themselves as Democrats.”””

    Rugby, I’m not talking about GOP vs Dems with my analysis. I’m talking about people who identify themselves as leaning more conservative, which applies across Party lines. The numbers do not concur with what we often hear from the MTVs, NY Times, etc media organizations of the world. They do not represent the general sentiments of the heart of the country.

  16. HSC Republican says:

    Reed has no chance of running for Gov in 2010! A place below us would have to freeze over first!

  17. Demonbeck says:

    “Reed has no chance of running for Gov in 2010! A place below us would have to freeze over first!”

    What? Florida?

  18. duluthmom says:

    I tried to post this before and then clicked submit as the site went down…argh.

    GAWire-
    You said : “If you look at the data, I think many people would be very surprised at how conservative the country truly is, as per how people identify themselves. Why do you think we are debating stem cell legislation, the pledge, ten commandments, overturning roe, gay marriage, etc? It’s because those are the issues that most of the country wants to hear about.”

    I disagree that the whole country is leaning conservative in the way you described. Nor does most of the country want those to be key issues with a huge deficit and an ongoing war.

    As you implied in your post about religious conservatists, when it comes to conservatism on social issues there ARE really two groups. Traditionalists, who consider themselves conservative but believe that the government should stay out of individual rights, and religious conservatists who believe that some sort of religious principle should guide or be included within the laws themselves (ie: posting of ten commandments). So clearly, not all see that conservatism=a more religious bent.

    In fact, a 1996 Election Board poll showed that a majority of only two religious groups actually identified themselves as conservative. The first was Committed Evangelical Protestants, the second was Committed Traditional Protestants. No other Christian groups had a majority that considered themselves conservative.

    And this proved to be true in the most recent votes on the issues you described. A vocal minority of religious conservatives brought the Marriage Amendment up for debate as a critical issue but the majority of Representatives could not back it. A vocal minority of religious conservatives were upset over expansion of stem cell research, which passed overwhelmingly (although not enough to override a veto).
    These both illustrate that clearly the majority do not embrace or call themselves conservatives in the sense you intended.

    Most of the conservatives I know who call themselves that are in actuality traditionalists. They just want the government to stay the heck out of our bedrooms, our sex lives, and in the decision-making process when faced with an unexpected pregnancy.

  19. GOPeach says:

    Landman-
    It was the Gays and The Flaggers who slammed the ball.

    Michael C –

    Reed DID repent. He did confess he did a
    wrong thing. The Cagle people drowned it out by the
    rhetoric. I ” TVoed” The debates. The first one at GPTV,
    Ralph sincerely appologized. Casey got nervous and
    started up again with the accusations…..

    Let me ask you a question… Have you ever done something
    wrong and appologized ( repented) and the one you offended
    would NOT hear you and kept on and on and on and on and on
    and on and on ….. Bringing it up and bringing it up .???????

    Ralph is clear. It is those who voted against Ralph who are wrong.

    Now I pray to God nobody here ever makes another mistake.
    Because unless you forgive Ralph, your sins will not be
    forgiven!

    Mark 11:25
    And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone,
    forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

    Luke 17:3
    So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents,
    forgive him.

    Okay now the ball is in your court.

    B-Boy –

    You must be a trial lawyer.

    B. S. ( Oooops I mean Bill Simon)
    “Feces Creek” ????

  20. landman says:

    peach,it was the Realtors,Builders,Bankers,Business Community,Teachers,Pastors,lawyers,Doctors,etc.etc,etc.

  21. GOPeach says:

    landman-

    Doctors? No way – Ralph’s father is a doctor and Ralph
    obviously defends medical liability reform.

    Pastors? -Who??? Name one who came out and endorsed Cagle!

    Business People? Business people were with Reed! Waffle House,
    Guy Millner, Yancey, etc…

    Now, I will believe Trail Lawyers and the Liberal Teachers Union
    backed Cagle. That is not a stretch.

    I can believe commerial realtors ( mainly men) would go with
    Cagle as he would destroy trres to build shopping centers.

    So these were Cagle’s coalitions:

    1. Trail Lawyers
    2. Commercial Realtors
    3. Bankers
    4. Liberal Teachers Union
    5. Gays
    6. Flaggers

    That’s what did it! That is what “06” meant.

    The following will leave him out to dry:

    1. Trail lawyers
    2. Liberal Teachers Union
    3. Gays
    4. Flaggers

    Then what???

    I would say that the Cagle crowd needs to be making
    friends with the REED Base or you will find that you
    have won the battle and lost the war in Nov.

    If anyone on this blog seriously wants to see an (R) in
    the Lt.Gov. seat….. Stop bashing Ralph Reed!!!
    You are making the REED Base skip the Lt. Gov. ballot.
    This is what I am hearing daily.

    You see, many REED people are involved in the
    Party and the more they hear people bashing REED,
    the more they will resist Cagle. It is a natural repsonse.

    What if it were the other way around?
    What is REED won and your guy was out of the race.
    And all you heard was ” Cagle Sucks” type juvenile
    language from intellegent adults????

    I’d say you boys need to mend your fences if you love Cagle.
    This “good ole boy whoop ass” attitiude is getting old.
    You got me?

  22. GOPeach says:

    I just found out that Yancey is with Hecht.

    See, it’s already starting. I would strongly suggest
    you get behind the REED base and be nice!!!

  23. Romegaguy says:

    “juvenile language from intellegent adults…”

    Peachy, surely you know by now that this doesnt describe Reed’s supporters

    And let Yancey be with the midget… another loss for him

  24. GOPeach says:

    Just had lunch at Waffle House-

    It was standing room only. They said
    their business is booming.
    The have a new item-

    The REED RUEBEN sandwich!
    It is delicious! The best!

  25. Dorabill says:

    Ruebens at Waffle House? Heeeey, wait a minute. Doesn’t Abramoff like Ruebens? I like Ruebens. But not at the expense of the double quarter cheeseburger plate. Waffle house divided?

  26. Brian from Ellijay says:

    Pastor Johnny (FBCW) supported Cagle, but as far as an endorsement noone wants to deal with the IRS and Churches. Also alot of the Deacons in my church FBC Ellijay came out early for Cagle once I introduced him. Christians voted for Cagle!!! Cagle is not anti Christian. He is very much the same as Ralph on those social issues that matter most in the faith and family community. Get it through your head. Dagle would not have won by the margin he had if the faith based community had not voted for him.

  27. debbie0040 says:

    We will see in November how much crossover vote Cagle actually had. If what you Cagle supporters say is true then Cagle should have no trouble being elected. If what Reed supporters say is true then Cagle will not be.

    Cagle ran a very negative and devisive campaign and has to try to put back the pieces together in time for November. That constant attack of Reed will not accomplish that and in fact it makes it worse.

    If Cagle truly wanted to put the pieces back together, he would be reaching out to the Senators the supported Reed or stayed neutral. If Cagle tries to retaliate against those Senators, then he will find out the cease fire is over. I believe Cagle is smart enough to reach out to those Senators.

    We should all be Cagle supporters now. I will vote for Cagle and will urge others to support the entire ticket. That will be the limit of my support. If they say they are sitting the election out because they refuse to vote for Cagle then I will encourage them to go vote and not punish other Republicans and just skip the Lt. Governor’s race on the ballot. I really believe that 30 % of Reed supporters will not vote for Lt. Governor unless a miracle takes place.

  28. jsm says:

    Cagle only informed the uninformed voter about Reed’s business dealings. Some may see that as divisive, but I see that as good campaign strategy. By November, the primary campaigns will be at best a foggy memory to most voters, and Republicans will vote for Cagle.

    One thing the Republican primary did for Cagle is get him LOTS of name recognition throughout the state, while the democratic candidates struggled for air time.

    People know Cagle’s name and his face. In November, he will handily defeat the lightweight Democratic challenger, no matter who it is.

  29. Demonbeck says:

    jsm,

    Good points – three months might as well be a century in electoral politics. Of course the same goes for name recognition. Cagle will either have to keep it up or make another hard push in the fall.

  30. GOPeach says:

    Brian wrote:

    “Pastor Johnny (FBCW) supported Cagle, but as far as an endorsement noone wants to deal with the IRS and Churches.”

    Brian-
    How do YOU know Pastor Johnny supported Cagle? Did he personally tell you?
    If so, then he ENDORSED him!!!!

    You seem confused. Let me help you.

    ==============
    A Pastor is Not a Church
    ==============

    A Pastor is Not a ( thing) Church. A Pastors is a ( person) US Citizen.
    A Church is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation ( thing)
    A Pastor is not a non-profit organization.
    A Pastor is protected by the US Constitution/ Free Speech LAws.

    Your Pastor can not stand up and say,
    ” Woodstock First Baptist endorses __________ for public office.”

    But Your Pastor can stand up and say,
    ” I personally support __________ for public office.”

    Black Pastors have done this for half a century as you know!

    The main reason why some Pastors decide to not publically
    endorse a candidate is because they have taken out a huge
    loan to build a bigger building and it would hurt the tithes
    and offerings. A lot of “White Churches” are divided politically
    and so Pastors stay out of Politics because it would hurt them
    financially.

    So it is not about the IRS laws ; it is about the MOney for the Mortage!

    =================
    WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
    ================
    Many pastors are reluctant to get involved in political activities such as voter registration and advocating policy positions and political candidates. Pastors and church members should be aware of permissible political activities.

    CHURCHES MAY NOT:

    Endorse or oppose a particular candidate
    Contribute to or raise money for a candidate (including free use of church list)

    PASTORS ( and CHURCH MEMBERS) MAY:

    (1) Register their members as voters
    (2) Pass out Voter’s Guides
    (3) Invite all candidates in a race to speak
    (4) Speak directly about specific issues and legislation

    Individually, a pastor can do whatever he/she feels led to do, such as endorsing a candidate or advocating support for a particular policy position. There are no limitations. The few limitations above that exist are only for the Church entity and only if the Church is a non-profit corporation.

    Make sense?

    Peach knows. She has been working with Churches for 30 years!

  31. GOPeach says:

    Another reason Johnny Hunt would not publically endorse
    Casey Cagle is because he knows Ralph Reed is a fellow
    Christian and would be a great voice at the Capital for
    socially conservative issues.

    The ONLY way Cagle won this nomination was by enforcing
    a perception that Ralph Reed lacked integrity. It really
    worked wll for him. I will give him that. Bingo!

    Johnny Hunt knows that as a Pastor, it would have cost him
    a lot to come out and publically endorse Casey. It would
    have sent the message that Ralph Reed lacks morals and
    it would be bearing a false witness against him.

    Johnny Hunt knows that unless he personally
    witnessed Ralph Reed breaking the law, he can not be
    bare witness of it. He can not stand against a brother in
    Christ in false judgment.

    Maybe others should follow suit.

  32. Bill Simon says:

    Ohhhh, is that how it works, Peach? One has to personally witness someone engaging in an act of wrong doing in order to stand against them?

    Ya know, there’s a whole lotta folks in jail right now that I didn’t “witness” them doing wrong…guess if Peach was the jailer, she would let them all out ’cause she didn’t “witness” them committing their crimes.

  33. debbie0040 says:

    Barnes thought the same thing about removing the flag – that it would be forgotten by the election. I hope you are right but I sense an anger that is strong. Voters have said they do not want to reward Cagle for the type of campaign he ran .

    The Democrats are smart enough to know that the Lt. Governor’s race is the one race they have a good chance of winning. do you actually think they will just roll over and play dead for Cagle? They will hit Cagle with everything they have got…

  34. shep1975 says:

    Remember rule #1 of politics: Perception is Reality. If people preceive Reed as a crooked lobbyist, he is. If people preceive Cagle as wishy-washy moderate, he is.

  35. Jimbo says:

    It will be quite funny to see Cagle given a taste of his own medicine by the Democratic nominee. A lot of the things Reed threw at him did not stick because of Abramoff.

    That will not be ture of a squeaky clean Democrat like Hecht or even Martin.

    Shep1976, you and I agree 100%. If you ask most voters they will tell you that Cagle was a wishy washy moderate. Remember what happened in 1996 when Clinton was President and had high negatives? The GOP nominated a moderate like Robert Dole and Clinton easily won. Voters did not see a big difference between the two parties during that election so evangelicals stayed at home.

    I reall y don’t see Sadie Fields or any Reed supporter out on the campaign trail stumping for Cagle.

    The Lt. Governor’s race does not signal an end to evangelicals being heavlily involved in the party.

  36. duluthmom says:

    Jimbo said: “Remember what happened in 1996 when Clinton was President and had high negatives? The GOP nominated a moderate like Robert Dole and Clinton easily won.”

    Low stats? Are we talking about the same President?
    Clinton’s lowest rating came in 1993 when it was at 43% (a good deal higher than Bush’s recent all time low); but it was at 61% just after summer of 1996 when he was up against Dole.

    Stats source: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/poll_clintonlegacy010117.html

    Dole didn’t lose because he was a moderate; he lost because the American public perceived that Clinton was doing a good job. If Clinton had been floundering, he’d have been toast.

    In 2004, Bush’s approval hovered around 50%, which explains why he had such a tough job getting re-elected. (yeah, yeah, I know I got the most votes ever; but you’ve got to admit it was no runaway win.)

    Clearly, it isn’t an issue of Moderates costing the GOP elections, rather it’s the result of the public perception that the incumbent is still doing a good job.

    (That same favorable perception is why Sonny will win in November.)

  37. debbie0040 says:

    I totally disgree with your logic Duluth Mom. If the GOP had nominated Reagan in 1976 then Carter would not have won.

    Bush 41 even moved to the right for his 1988 election .

    If the GOP had nominated a strong conservative candidate in 1996 instead of Dole they would have won because the Clinton Presidency had its share of scandal.

    I think in 2008 the GOP can nominate a moderate because of the Democratic frontrunners being so liberal there will be a huge difference between the GOP nominee and the Dem nominee.

  38. duluthmom says:

    Debbie-
    The only point I’ll agree with you on is your last one. I think the GOP can nominate a moderate–and should. My logic as it pertained to approval ratings was based on incumbents.

    As for your argument on Carter, personally, I don’t believe Reagan or any other Republican could have been elected in 1976 as Watergate was still firmly in the minds of most Americans and Ford was seen as a bumbling idiot. Like it or not, the party was tainted; and the country wanted a change. Carter appealed to many as the key to that change; but after his failures the country was ready for a Republican nominee again.

    As for the Clinton scandals, since the one with Monica Lewinsky hadn’t broken at the time of the election, the public didn’t perceive that Clinton was riddled with scandal. All they saw was that stocks were rising and that they were enjoying a good standard of living. A GOP candidate couldn’t touch Clinton at that point, no matter how conservative.

  39. debbie0040 says:

    Travelgate had broken along with the land deal. Scandals had already broken by that time. The right nominee would have defeated Clinton.

    I think if the GOP nominates a moderate like Giuliani that is a hero of sorts, he would win. I think if we nominate someone like John McCain the Dem will win.

  40. duluthmom says:

    I didn’t say that no scandals had broken; I stated that “the public didn’t perceive that Clinton was riddled with scandal.”

    Again, like it or not, Travelgate and Whitewater were non-issues for the majority of Americans, who saw both as a Republican crusade that resulted in no real findings against the Clintons. By the time of the election, Hillary had already testified before the grand jury (Jan) and the issues had become non-issues to most Americans.

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