Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is Romney appealing to a conservative coalition that no longer controls the GOP?

Michael Scherer asks that very question:

Is Romney Fighting the Last War?
From the start, Mitt Romney had a clear strategy for winning the White House. He would run as the candidate of the ideological establishment, the Republican old-guard, the coalition of Ronald Reagan, with that three-legged stool of social, fiscal and national security conservatism. He would become the inside man in a presidential field filled with outsiders.


And yet, his candidacy sputtered. His narrow loss Tuesday to John McCain in Florida was just the latest in a series of disappointments that began in Iowa and New Hampshire, two states where he had outspent his rivals and once led in the polls. His failures have many causes, which will be raked over by historians. But they also suggest a broader shift: Romney may be running to lead a Republican Party that no longer exists.

As has become increasingly clear, the ideological coalition Romney so eagerly courted no longer controls the fate of the GOP, at least in the early voting states - which have favored Mike Huckabee, a populist who trumpets the occasional role of larger government, and John McCain, a legislative maverick who does not always play by the Republican rulebook. Romney tried to run as the establishment candidate, only to find that the establishment no longer held the power. [...]

The article goes on to talk about some of the new strategies the Romney camp plans to move forward from here.

I think it is quite possible he's been appealing to a coalition that either no longer exists, or is smaller, weaker or otherwise changed from what it once was. The Reagan Coalition was formed almost 30 years ago. Many of it's members, like president Reagan himself, have passed on. Times have changed.

The best winning strategy that Mitt can use right now is, IMO, to just be himself, and not try to fit into a conservative straight jacket. He won't be conservative enough for the extreme right, but how likely is he to get their votes anyway? He has potential appeal to a lot of more moderate conservatives, including conservative Democrats. He should use this to his advantage, rather than play it down.

UPDATE 01-31-08
I just want to state that I'm not saying the coalition is dead, but I am trying to understand what has happened to bring us where we are now, so we can understand what needs to be done next. I elaborate more on that here:

The state of the Reagan Coalition, as it is today

Related Links:

Is the Reagan Coalition Gone? What's next?



Dionne said...

Thanks for the link. I by no means think the Reagan coalition is gone, just split. I just think there are many, many factors causing problems this year. #1--Because of Mitt's flip flopping on the issues many were reticent to trust him in the beginning.

#2--The Reaganites have been split between numerous candidates that represented different aspects of Reagan.

#3--Now that Romney is the only one left that stands for anything remotely connected to Reagan hopefully he can get some momentum on Super Tuesday.

Chas said...


regarding #1: I'm not sure just how much Mitt has really flip-flopped, or how much the Left keeps taking things he's said out of context. Here is just one example:

Romney's stance on civil unions draws fire: Activists accuse governor of 'flip-flopping' on issue

His explanation makes sense to me. But how often have you heard it?

#2: Yes, I think you are right, to some degree. But what about states like South Carolina, where more liberal Northeasterners have been moving in and taking over local GOP chapters and outnumbering local conservatives? Are there enough Reagan conservatives left to carry these states for the Coalition, or will they support John McCain?

#3: I can only hope you're right. We shall see on Super Tuesday, which way the wind is blowing.