Why Are Republicans So Bumfuzzled?
Just when you thought it could not get any more disconnected and inane the Republican Party is getting so far off the rails they are threatening to miss a genuine opportunity in 2012. From the Presidential race down through the Senate and the House, the GOP machine is derailing at an alarming rate. Worse yet the Republican electorate are driving the party further from a successful 2012 election cycle.
So why, and where, are Republicans missing their opportunities? What must be done now to get back on a clear and cohesive track to save the country from a second term for Barack Obama, and to gain at least a simple majority in the Senate while preserving the majority in the House?
The answer is simple – focus on what people are most concerned about, and hammer the Democrats for the current economic calamity and the decrease in quality of life for the average American. For the GOP electorate it is time to come to terms with reality and eschew the circus-like freak show the GOP primary has devolved into over the course of the last several months.
From a Rasmussen Platinum Members report (click here if you have a Platinum membership) we can discern the following, which are fundamental to establishing a cohesive and successful GOP plan:
Importance of Issues
69% Health Care
65% Government Ethics and Corruption
61% Social Security
Perceptions of Obama
26% Strongly Approve
39% Strongly Disapprove
54% Government Spending Will Go Up
40% Obama on Economy (Excellent or Good)
28% Obama on Energy (Excellent or Good)
Favorable/Unfavorable of Congressional Leadership
35% / 49% John Boehner
26% / 66% Nancy Pelosi
29% / 44% Mitch McConnell
23% / 57% Harry Reid
We have an incumbent President with -13%, a House Minority Leader with -40% and a Senate Majority Leader with -34% approval ratings. Granted both Boehner and McConnell have negative ratings but only 14% and 15% respectively.
We also have 54%, 60% and 72% of Americans who believe Obama will increase spending, is weak on the economy and weak on energy respectively.
Let’s consider one other set of data and then we’ll address what the takeaways are and how to turn them into a resounding success for the Republican Party in 2012.
Based on December 31, 2011 data from the FEC, unweighted for any anomalies like Brown and Warren in MA who have substantial war chests, there is a meaningful message in the following chart.
Average Candidate Cash-On-Hand as of December 31, 2011
Acknowledging that Congressional races are just starting to warm up and the first quarter data for 2012 will tell a more succinct story, we can still see that Republican incumbents have more money than their Democratic counterparts by 28.2% in the House and 10.4% in the Senate.
The more telling numbers though are that Democratic challengers for House seats have 47.9% more money than Republican challengers, and Senate Democratic challengers have 14.1% more money than Republican challengers. While these deficits may be overcome through aggressive fund-raising, it’s clear the Democrats are doing what they can to muster a serious challenge in both chambers.
- An incumbent President that the average American clearly believes is not good for the economy yet that is the number one issue for 80% of Americans.
- A President that 72% of Americans believe is weak on energy policy.
- Top Democrats in both chambers with 2.5 to 1 unfavorable / favorable ratios.
What The Republican Politicians Must Do
- Get off the social issue bandwagon immediately. While Americans may have strong opinions about these issues they clearly are focused on the economy, jobs, taxes and fiscal policy.
- Constantly remind voters of the $6 trillion debt increase under the Obama administration for which they have very few more jobs and no appreciable increase in their quality of life. That’s a 60% rise in the national debt with nothing to show for it except bigger government.
- Establish and reinforce the GOP commitment to domestic natural gas production, the Keystone XL pipeline and other energy programs that can lessen our dependence on foreign oil while creating considerable numbers of new jobs. 72% of Americans believe Obama is weak on energy, so take advantage of that and his ineffectiveness in down-ticket support in energy policy.
- Increase the pressure on the administration regarding Fast and Furious, Solyndra and other failed energy investments, lack of transparency in the Federal Reserve and their part in hidden ongoing bailouts, and the general perception of cronyism within the White House. Americans put ethics and corruption third on their list of important issues, play to that and get behind the remarkably small percentage of Republicans in Congress who are trying to take these fights to the Democrats.
- Reinforce the amount of legislation that has passed the House, with its Republican majority, which has been blocked and rebuffed by the Democratic controlled Senate. Voters are telling you they are most concerned about their quality of life and that starts with the availability of a stable, full-time job.
What The Republican Voters Must Do
- Forego the anti-Romney sentiment and accept he is the only GOP candidate with a real chance to beat Barack Obama. The only reason Rick Santorum is polling where he is right now is backlash support from the “I’ll vote for anybody but Mitt Romney” crowd. As a Republican your first concern should be preventing a second Obama term, and the only candidate who can do that is Mitt Romney.
- Stop thinking a brokered convention results in a savior emerging from nowhere. This would only weaken the party at both the Presidential and Congressional levels. The time for entertainment is long past and it’s time to get serious about what creates the greatest possibility of taking the White House back, securing a majority in the Senate and strengthening the majority in the House.
- Get involved at the Congressional level with your time, support and money. It’s true there will be more money available via Super PAC’s funded by corporate interests in 2012 than ever before, but it’s true on both sides of the aisle. Coalescing behind a Presidential nominee now allows more money to be used to combat the estimated $1 billion Obama will have at his disposal, and volunteering your time to assist the Republican incumbent or challenger in your state and district raises the probability that the GOP can take the Senate and extend its numbers in the House.
There are Republican members of Congress who, for whatever reason, will not follow this path and that is their right but if they don’t they damage the cohesion of the overall effort. Regardless of specific positions on policy every Republican in Congress should see 2012 as the opportunity it is and behave accordingly.
There are Republican voters who will continue to fracture the party with fringe attitudes on social issues, and there are those who will continue to embrace the anti-Romney “candidate of the month” or will keep hoping for a brokered convention with Christie or Daniels stepping-up and grabbing the nomination but they had their chance and chose to pass.
President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are vulnerable but only when confronted by a unified and focused opposition. The ammunition is available and the enemy is on the run. Do Republicans have what it takes to come together now, mount a united charge and stop being so bumfuzzled?
For the sake of the country, its citizens and its future, I certainly hope so.