Thursday, November 22, 2012

What is the "electable" candidate?

Every primary I hear a lot of talk from amateur hour pundits and other figures talk about how primary voters need to vote for the so called "electable" candidate. Often, electable means the pet candidate of the NRSC. Chris Chocola of the Club for Growth, called this logic out in an editorial.

In the wake of some missed opportunities to pick up seats in the U.S. Senate over the last few cycles, one tactical change floated by the GOP establishment is that the party apparatus and its affiliated Super PACs should play a more influential role in primaries to make sure that more “electable” candidates are nominated.
It is hard to imagine a bigger mistake.
I hope Jerry Moran cleans house with the administrative portion of NRSC. I'm not impressed with their record the past six years, especially.  Marco Rubio told primary voters in 2010 to pick a better establishment.

Chocola continues.

First, let’s review the Senate races where the Republicans nominated so-called “electable” establishment candidates in 2012: Denny Rehberg in Montana, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Heather Wilson in New Mexico, George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin. All were establishment favorites because they were all “electable.” All of them lost.

Berg and Thompson were the two biggest disappointments. Unfortunately Mourdock also lost, and he was Chocola's guy. He lost for the same reason Akin did. Dumbass comments.

Second, let’s review the recent history of the Republican establishment’s choices of candidates in high-profile Republican primaries against fiscal conservatives.
The names that come to mind include Dede Scozzafava, Arlen Specter, and Charlie Crist. All were supported by the Republican Party establishment as the most “electable” in their respective races. These stellar “Republican” candidates ended up either endorsing the Democratic candidate in the race or became Democrats themselves.

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That's the big reason for a lot of major dislike these days from the base towards liberals that the media calls moderate (Bush is an actual moderate). People like Charlie Crist. These same turkeys that tell us to be team players pull this crap sometimes even if their candidate is nominated, like in 2008 and even this year in 2012. I haven't forgotten, Irish grudges and all. If I took one for the team to help Romney in the general election these same moderates and liberals need to take one for the team when a conservative is nominates. I respect Rudy Giuliani even though I don't agree with him. Rick Snyder on the other hand can go perform an unnatural act on himself.

There is a clear solution. If the GOP wants to involve itself in primaries again it should focus on supporting candidates who clearly believe in and can articulate what the Republican Party says it stands for, limited government and economic freedom. Not candidates who simply adopt whatever positions make them the most “electable.”
One of the biggest silver linings of the 2012 election is the deep Republican bench. In addition to rising stars endorsed by the Club for Growth PAC like Senators Toomey, Rubio, Cruz, Mike Lee, Jeff Flake, Ron Johnson and Rand Paul, a whole new generation of governors who support economic freedom stand ready in the wings.

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I generally agree, but good philosophy is only one part of what is electable.When I look at an electable candidate, I look at the following:

1. Does the candidate have a history of winning tough areas?

Pat Toomey won in the Leigh Valley several times and then won statewide in Pennsylvania. He's a conservative. Heather Wilson, more moderate, won in Albuquerque. She lost this year statewide in New Mexico, but I thought she wasn't a bad candidate.

2. Does the candidate have a tendency of putting his/her foot in the mouth?

Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell. George Allen in 2006. This has nothing to do with liberal, moderate, or conservative. This is about being smart and controlling yourself. 

3. Is the candidate talked into running, or does he/she want the job?

This I thought about after this year. If you told me last year that Mr Welfare Reform, Tommy Thompson was going to lose to a Madison progressive far leftist, I'd laugh in your face. I would not have gotten the last laugh. The NRSC loves candidates who are ex=governors or establishmeent congressmen who aren't very controversial. Pete Hoekstra, Tommy Thompson, and Mike Bouchard in 2006 ran like they were talked into running. I'm not sure they really wanted the job, or at least campaign for it. Maybe Hoekstra and Bouchard (good guys, but weren't the best candidates) wouldn't have won anyway, but I didn't expect them to lost by 15-20pts. I learned a lot this year about the dangers of candidates without the fire in the belly.

4. Does the candidate have a strong base and can get that group to the polls?

Pat Toomey. Marco Rubio. Tom Coburn as a congressman winning a very conservadem seat. Hoeven as governor in North Dakota. Justin Amash and the libertarians in his district.  There are people that go to elections just to vote FOR those people more than simply generic R. 

5. Does the candidate appeal to independents? That doesn't mean "moderate" which can sometimes lead to double flanking and race skipping. A reputation of integrity, competence, and principles gain independent votes. Mike Rogers has even won Ingham County at times, even though he's a social conservative. Pat Toomey ran better than "moderates" Romney and McCain in the liberal Philly suburbs. He won Bucks County (so did Romney, although Bush lost it twice). Rubio swept Florida easily.

6. Can the candidate raise money? At least enough to win.

That doesn't mean the candidate needs to outspend the opponent, but the candidate needs to be competitive so we don't get Stabenow vs Hoekstra/Bouchard situations.

I've come to believe that philosophy doesn't mean as much to electability as tone, competence, self-control, work ethic, and message. Liberal Fred Upton wins a swing district, as does Tim Walberg and Mike Rogers. Upton isn't the jerk that Joe Schwarz is. Walberg isn't Todd Akin. Mike Pence is possibly more conservative than Mourdock. Kelly Ayotte was supported by a lot of the grass roots as well as establishment and won a swing state.

Amateur hour pundits believe than candidates need to be "moderate" to win, and they can't be further from the truth. Results show things are a lot more complicated than the ability for most beltway so called journalists to understand. 

In order to win, I think you need a specific plan (part of Romney's problem - too many platitudes and flips), be able to execute it (Orca didn't help), not be a jerk, work hard and campaign like you want the job. There's electable tea party candidates and unelectable tea party candidates. There's electable establishment candidates and unelectable establishment candidates.

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