Republicans and Reality

Do you feel sorry for the Republicans? Their effort to repeal Obamacare has failed and most of them are moving on:

“Only 18% of Americans want to go back to the system we had before because they do not want to go back to some of the problems we had,” Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster who works for presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, said at a recent breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

“Smart Republicans in this area get that,” he added.

Whit Ayres also spent some time at that breakfast explaining reality to the attendees about gay marriage and young Republicans.

While a majority of Americans support gay marriage, nearly three-quarters of Republicans do not, according to Gallup. That’s not true for young Republicans, however. More than 60 percent of Republican voters under 30 do support gay marriage, said Ayres, the founder and president of North Star Opinion Research.

“We’re headed to the point where a political candidate who is perceived as anti-gay at the presidential level will never connect with people under 30 years old,” Ayres said, citing the rapidly changing views on same-sex marriage in America.

Now, imagine a competition in Iowa to win the support of the most impassioned conservatives in that state.

These are voters who, by-and-large, hold similar views to Rep. Steve King. This is the man who just this week was accusing the Democrats of passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a way of creating an artificially large electorate. He says the president is trying to do the same thing now with his executive actions on immigration.

King also compared Obama’s immigration actions to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The law’s creation allowed many blacks in the segregated south to cast ballots for the first time.

“It erodes the politics of this country, the respect for the rule of law, and it creates this massive electorate that will likely vote in large numbers for Barack Obama and his party, just like African-Americans have done so after Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which by the way took the majority of Republicans in the House and Senate to make sure that that passed,” he added.

Talking moderately about Latinos, gays, or health care won’t be easy if your job is to attract this crowd. Mike Huckabee knows how to talk to them, however, and he’s going to announce his presidential campaign on May 5th. In fact, he’s already carving out some ground for himself by opposing cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Rand Paul will commit his own heresies, primarily on a selective and shifting basis, but we can expect him to say some things about foreign policy, surveillance, marijuana, and prison reform that Republican voters aren’t used to hearing. The combo of Huck and Paul will help splice up the Iowa caucus-goers in unpredictable ways.

You can at least say this. The voters will have some choices. I wouldn’t trust any polling, however, as the variables are too complicated to account for in any scientific way. It’ll be a little easier to poll in states with primaries instead of caucuses, but up in New Hampshire people have the opportunity to participate even if they aren’t members of the Republican Party, which means that independents and mischievous Democrats will have a big say in who wins. The Bush family history in New Hampshire shouldn’t provide much comfort for Jeb, though.

After narrowly winning Iowa in 1980, Poppy Bush got clocked by Reagan in New Hampshire, 50%-23%. He did manage to win there in 1988 and 1992, although he was embarrassed in the latter contest by a stronger than expected finish by nativist Pat Buchanan. Of course, John McCain destroyed Dubya in the 2000 Granite State primary.

This time around it could be that Jeb is positioning himself as moderate enough to win in New England, particularly when the voting is open to non-Republicans. But he better hope he’s successful because when the contest turns south, being moderate on things like education and immigration won’t be assets.

It’s interesting that Marco Rubio’s pollster is trying to interject some sanity into this process. Will Rubio listen to his pollster? Was he listening to his pollster when he decided that he no longer believes in climate science?

Where does reality (political or otherwise) intersect here?

My guess is that it intersects after the polls close on Election Night and the Republicans have lost big…again.

[Cross-posted at Progress Pond]

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.