April 2, 2015


The Myth Of The Stay-At-Home Republicans (Karl Rove, 4/02/15)

Republicans concerned about voters who failed to show up should look elsewhere. There were approximately 4.9 million fewer self-identified moderates, 1.7 million fewer white Catholics, and 1.2 million fewer women who voted in 2012 than in 2008.

While Mr. Obama carried both moderates and women in 2012, it is likely that those in each group who dropped out of the electorate were unwilling to support Mr. Obama a second time but simply couldn't bring themselves to vote for Mr. Romney. 

Similarly, while Mr. Romney carried 59% of white Catholics who voted in 2012, those who didn't turn out appear to be middle-class and often blue-collar voters, like those in GOP-leaning counties in northwestern Ohio, who would never vote to re-elect Mr. Obama but apparently felt Mr. Romney did not care about people like them.

These missing moderate, white Catholic and women voters who didn't vote in 2012 can be motivated to vote for a Republican candidate in 2016--if they think that candidate cares about people like them. Still, getting back some voters in these three groups, while also generating higher turnout among conservatives who generally don't vote, is probably not enough. To win, the GOP must also do a good deal better among Hispanic, Asian-American and African-American voters than they have since 2004. 

Doing better with any of these segments of the electorate does not require a Republican presidential candidate to forsake a conservative message. It does require finding the right message and presenting it in a compelling way to people not usually drawn to the GOP or motivated to turn out. 

The three Republicans who won the presidency in the past 40 years offered clear, consistent conservative messages and themes from the day they entered the race. They understood the impressions they created in the primaries largely determined the general election's outcome--and that building a broad, winning, center-right coalition was too difficult and too important a task to leave until after the convention and the campaign's final four months. It's a lesson worth remembering in 2016.

Posted by at April 2, 2015 5:19 PM

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