Will the GOP let the Tea Party Break Away?

As promised, I stayed off WordPress and Twitter yesterday and enjoyed watching the election without frantically typing up blog posts. But, now that it’s been a bit, I’m back.

There are a huge number of story lines from yesterday’s results. One main one has been about the state of the Republican party. This has come up with a couple of my conservative friends. The party right now is a mix of center-right moderates and extreme Tea Party members. They are held together by a dislike for President Obama, but the ties are tenuous.

Now comes this from the Tea Party Patriots:

The Tea Party Patriots declared war on the Republican establishment after moderate establishment Republican Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama on Tuesday.Jenny Beth Martin, National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, criticized the Republican Party for hand-picking a Beltway elite candidate who did not campaign forcefully on America’s founding principles and said the “presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”

“For those of us who believe that America, as founded, is the greatest country in the history of the world – a ‘Shining city upon a hill’ – we wanted someone who would fight for us,” Martin said. “We wanted a fighter like Ronald Reagan who boldly championed America’s founding principles, who inspired millions of independents and ‘Reagan Democrats’ to join us, and who fought his leftist opponents on the idea that America, as founded, was a ‘Shining city upon a hill.

Instead, Martin lamented, “what we got was a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment wing of the Republican Party.”

Many of the commenters on the article want to form their own “Tea Party” or “Constitutional Party” to break off from the Republican establishment.

I’m wondering how Republican leaders will treat this. I hesitantly think they may jump for joy. Here’s a perfect way to move towards the center, to become more open to Hispanics and more liberal on social issues. The Tea Party is extreme on all those issues. Just by having them jump ship, the Republican party becomes a lot more appealing to minorities and women.

Of course, that leaves a hole in the GOP base. But if the Tea Party runs a candidate in the next election (or in a Senate race, House race, etc.), he won’t have a chance. The Tea Party does not have bipartisan support and America cannot sustain a third party.

In such a situation though, whoever the Republican candidate is will have a chance and the Tea Party members may switch their votes from their own guy to the Republican at the last second to prevent a Democrat victory. In addition, if the Republicans can pick up a decent percentage of minorities and women, the party won’t be as stuck to its base.

It’s certainly a risky strategy, but it’s also a great opportunity. In the end, Republicans may just say, “Bring on the war.”

 

The Obama Campaign is Trying to Scare Liberals into Voting

Kevin Drum is out with a post today refuting the idea that Democratic candidates want to scare liberals into voting. He quotes a friend of his who believes that Republicans vote no matter what, rain or shine, but that Democrats often stay home if they believe their candidate is going to win. It’s a widely held sentiment and one that I’m partial to but Drum doesn’t believe the campaigns themselves actually buy it:

But there’s an odd thing about this: professional politicians apparently don’t believe it. At all. Oh sure, they’ll keep sending out the scary emails all the way through November 6. “Folks, there are a bunch of races that are simply too close to call,” screams the latest plea in my inbox from Dick Durbin. “Contribute $7 now, before time runs out.” (Really? $7?) Publicly, though, presidential campaigns pretty much never do this. In fact, they usually go to absurd lengths to demonstrate that their campaign is a juggernaut that will sail to victory. They apparently believe—and so do I—that people are energized by being associated with a winner. Confidence in victory boosts turnout, it doesn’t suppress it.

Except, President Obama’s campaign has spent the past week trying to terrify liberals into voting and giving money. Just look at the recent emails I’ve received from the campaign (before Hurricane Sandy):


That’ certainly looks to me like the Obama campaign is trying to terrify Democrats into voting. I just went back a few days in these emails and, to be fair, the campaign emails before these were a bit more positive. But these are the more recent ones and they are extremely pessimistic! Ezra Klein also had a post on this a week ago. Drum’s friend is right – the campaign is worried that overconfident liberals won’t vote and is doing everything it can to lower their confidence levels.

Debate Reaction

The final debate came and went last night and if you follow me on my twitter, you saw absolutely nothing from me on it. Why? A couple of reasons:

First off, I had the luxury of watching with my class of students with none other than Karl Rove. He debated Howard Dean earlier during the day at Duke and stuck around to watch the debate with us. Of course, we were all focused on the actual debate but it was still very cool to be sitting just a few feet away from him during it.

But, plenty of my classmates were on Twitter during it and Rove was as well. I chose to stay off because I wanted to judge it without the nonsense of Twitter. I thought last night was particularly partisan. The first debate Romney clearly won in a landslide. Obama won the second by a little. But throughout last night’s debate and afterwards, any Democrat or left-leaning journalist I follow seemed to think Obama dominated and any Republican or right-leaning journalist thought Romney dominated. It was split decisively along party lines. It was quickly clear to me that I wasn’t going to get much from reading Twitter and I certainly wasn’t going to add anything to the discussion as well. So I stayed away and I’m glad I did so. It actually felt kind of nice to watch the debate away from social media (mostly – I snuck a peek every once in a while).

President Obama and Mitt Romney during their third and final presidential debate.

As for my thoughts on the debate, I thought it was a dead draw. Obama responded well on Israel/Iran while Romney seemed to do better on China (something that infuriates me – more on that later). I thought the rest of the issues were about even. The polling after the debate seemed to show a Obama victory, but remember my way of judging the debates: the winner is the person who convinces voters to vote for him.

Here are the snap polls:

CNN

Who won the debate? Obama 48%, Romney 40%

Who are you more likely to vote for? Unchanged 50%, Romney 25%, Obama 24%

Public Policy Polling

Who won the debate? Obama 53%, Romney 42%

Are you more or less likely to vote for President Obama?

More likely 37%
Less likely 31%
Unchanged 30%

Are you more or less likely to vote for Governor Romney?

More likely 38%
Less likely 35%
Unchanged 26%

CBS News

Who won the debate? Obama 53%, Romney 23%, Tie 24%

Once again, CBS annoys me and doesn’t have any more info on their polls (or if they do, someone please point it out to me). As for the CNN and PPP poll, clearly it was about a draw. The PPP poll actually shows Romney with an advantage among independents. Thirty-two percent of independents said they were more likely to vote for Obama after the debate while 47% said they were less likely. In contrast, 47% of independents said they were more likely to vote for Romney afterwards with 35% saying they were less likely.

Some numbers point towards Obama, some towards Romney and my gut reaction was a tie. Thus, I’m going to call it a tie until I see further polling. We (and by we, I mean Nate Silver) will have plenty of polls to sort through during the next two weeks. (Image via)