Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The GOP's Southern Problem

By Nathan Rothwell

Republican presidential candidate Rick Buttfroth picked up Mississippi and Alabama in Tuesday's primary contests. Although fellow candidate Mitt Romney has failed to pick up any southern states in this primary season (Virginia and Florida don't really count, in my eyes), Tuesday's results all but assured that Romney will eventually be named the nominee.

As many have already predicted would happen, the social conservative wing of the Republican Party, once their greatest asset, has now become marginalized within their own party. While they still exist in large enough numbers to propel Santorum and Newt Gingrich to victories in the southern states, they are practically voices shouting in the wind everywhere else. According to CNN exit polls on Tuesday, even in Mississippi Romney is still the preferred choice among Republican women, those making at least $50,000 a year, and anyone who identifies as something other than "very conservative."

Stephen Colbert has repeatedly joked on his show The Colbert Report that there is a "Countdown to Loving Mitt," meaning that Republicans who are hoping against hope that someone defeats him for the party nomination will eventually fall in line and express their newfound love for Romney, in hopes that he can defeat President Obama in November. Colbert's countdown is especially humorous because we can rest assured that it will happen. Santorum and Gingrich have failed to win over any moderate support, which will be key to Romney's victory.

So what does this tell us? Two major things:

1) We can officially close the door on the national Tea Party movement.

It was fun while it lasted, but this primary season is proof positive that the social conservatives caught up in Tea Party fervor just don't have that much national appeal anymore. Their influence can still be felt in the South and other regional contests, but their broader national appeal that was alive and thriving in 2010 has now faded into the background. Many in the Tea Party can safely be counted upon to fall behind Romney when the time comes, as they still prefer him to President Secret-Muslim-Socialist-Fascist-Hybrid-Nobirthcertificate Obama. Moderates, however, cannot be counted on to fall behind the crazy rhetoric spewed by the likes of "Moon Base" Gingrich and "Premarital sex is against God's plan" Santorum.

The GOP can't mount a serious effort against Obama without moderate support, which clearly makes Romney their guy. When this becomes official at the GOP convention, we will truly see that the Tea Party no longer drives the much larger Republican party; rather, the GOP drives them.

2) The longer Gingrich and Santorum remain in the race, the harder it will be for Romney to get the conservative stink off of him.

Just because social conservatives are failing to truly influence primary season does not mean they're dead and gone. And while they refuse to help Romney, they can most certainly hurt him between now and November. Romney still campaigned hard in the states he failed to win, pandering to people who truly believe that the country's biggest problems are welfare fraud and treating gay people like human beings. Santorum and Gingrich have done the same to greater success in southern states, and it's all happened under the big Republican tent with Romney standing right next to them, even if he doesn't completely agree with the platform. When he is officially named the nominee, he will still have the anti-contraception, pro-theocracy, corporately-backed stink of the other candidates and Republican party all over him. And it will cost him in November.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No to the Status Quo! News and Opinion Blogs

Blogger Widgets