Morning Briefing: September 26th, 2012
By Steve Deace
Little Birdie Chirps with 40 Days to Go
After two days on the road working the phones and talking to some little birdies, here’s what I am hearing/seeing on Campaign 2012:
- Other than Ted Cruz’s campaign in Texas, the most excited I have seen the GOP base this entire election cycle is what I witnessed the past two days in St. Louis surrounding Todd Akin. It reminded me of how the Republican base in Iowa rallied to Mike Huckabee in 2008, which shocked the ruling class with a 9-point win on Caucus night. There is some tension, division, and discussion within social conservative ranks around the country about how best to proceed with our political activism. One group prefers perpetuating the old paradigm of partisan, access-based politics. An emerging group, of which I am a part, believes that hasn’t worked and it’s time to put principle before party. What’s interesting about the Akin candidacy, and specifically the way the party establishment tried to Bork him, is that at least for now it has brought these two factions together. I would guess this is the most social conservatives have been unified nationally (other than defending Chick-fil-a) since the 2004 election cycle when they were credited with being the difference in George W. Bush’s re-election.
- After talking to some Missouri activists/leaders, if I could summarize why they rallied around Akin when the party establishment tried to Bork him it would be this statement: “We’re tired of being bullied by the party establishment.”
- After two days of speakers and calls to action, one name was never mentioned the entire time I was in St. Louis. Not by Texas Governor Rick Perry, Phyllis Schlafly, not by Todd Akin himself, and not by anybody. That name was Mitt Romney, which is interesting considering this a state Romney should win by 6-10 points. There were a some general references to how bad Obama is and how important it is to defeat him, but not one speaker mentioned Romney by name, let alone attempted to extol the virtues of the Republican nominee. Paul Ryan’s name was never mentioned, either. For more than 30 years the people like those in this room the past two days were the primary customers of the Republican Party. When your primary customers either don’t believe in your product enough to promote it, or fear promoting it will lose other potential customers, that’s obviously not a good sign.
- Echoing some remarks he made in my home state of Iowa recently, long-time culture warrior Dr. Laurence White told those in attendance “it’s time stop being shills for the Republican Party” and put our principles first. He also urged those in attendance not to let the ruling class manipulate their emotions. “Every four years we’re told this is the most important election of our lifetimes,” White said with at least a tinge of sarcasm.
- One little birdie I spoke to seemed bemused by a recent New York Times story on Ralph Reed’s attempt to mobilize evangelicals for Romney this fall. “(Reed) is quite a salesman and he must have really sold his buddy Karl Rove on that one,” this little birdie said. “As someone trying to mobilize the same group of people, I can tell you it’s not that easy this year.”
- Speaking of Romney, I don’t have a single little birdie anywhere in the country that believes he will defeat President Obama on November 6th. Not a single one. Several believe he could win the popular vote, but everyone believes the Electoral College is too steep of a hill to climb, with Ohio being mentioned as the most prevalent example. The concern now is that Romney could drag down the rest of the folks down ballot, including capturing the U.S. Senate. Of course, some of us warned everyone about this prospect 9 months ago, but when the leadership of a political party would rather lose an election than lose control of the political party all critical thinking becomes abandoned. One little birdie recently had a conversation with a former Republican presidential candidate, who told him “you try to convince people that Romney can win but right now they’re not buying it.”
- After all the conversations I had the past two days, and everything I observed, I am now more convinced than ever that open civil warfare within the Republican Party will commence just seconds after Midnight on November 7th. And it will be on an unprecedented scale. I’m not sure any of us have seen anything like what will happen in our lifetimes, and it is long overdue if you ask me.
Finally, for those of you that live in my home state of Iowa, here’s what I’m hearing from little birdies:
- There is little doubt the Republicans will take the state senate. In fact, some Republicans are being told by Terry Branstad’s political operatives the GOP could end up with as many as 29 state senators.
- The Republicans are expected to retain control of the Iowa House, but lose several seats, especially where resources for new candidates are scarce.
- I’m told most of the Republicans running for Iowa House and Senate, including many of the newcomers, are on board with raising the gas tax. If that’s true, you better get everything out of that Republican majority you can in 2013, because the minute that regressive tax becomes law (Branstad is the most egregious taxer in Iowa history, and also favors the gas tax) the clock is ticking on GOP control at the statehouse.
- Little birdies told me the Iowa Bar Association is more organized for the judicial retention election this time than they were two years ago. My little birdies expect to oust Justice Wiggins, but that this will be a tougher fight than it was in 2010.
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