Sunday, January 8, 2012

What Iowa Tells the GOP

Among Democratic political strategists Douglas Schoen has been unfailingly critical of the Obama administration. His serious and sober political analysis has generally been non-partisan.

Thus, he is worth taking seriously. It is interesting to see how a good political consultant analyzes the state of the Republican presidential race. Especially Republicans seem ready to nominate a business consultant as their presidential candidate. 

In his column today Schoen explains that the Iowa caucuses are not good news for the Republican Party.

Schoen agrees with those on the right and the left who said that the winner of the Republican caucuses was Barack Obama.

In his words: “The Republican Party revealed itself to be irretrievably divided — with no candidate able to garner even 25% of the vote and voters unable to coalesce behind a common message or messenger.”

Schoen emphasizes that a successful political campaign must have a message and a messenger. In 2008, he points out, Democratic candidates all had the same message.

Romney, Santorum, and Paul represent radically different messages. Schoen explains that: “each one’s supporters could well wind up hating the eventual nominee.”

The presumptive candidate Mitt Romney does not have a message that anyone can discern. Romney has based his campaign on his knowledge of how business works. But, he is not running for CEO and has never shown the political skills needed to unite the party behind his agenda.

By the way, what is the Romney agenda? Better management? Better consulting?

After studying the Iowa poll results Schoen has reached conclusions that Republicans would do well to note.

In his words: “Establishment favorite Romney was able to pull off his eight-vote ‘victory’ with the support of traditional, upscale, suburban Republican voters. But Romney, who lacks a message, a mandate or a clear road forward, was not able to improve his standing from four years ago, and was nearly defeated by a candidate with no money.

“Especially puzzling is the fact that Romney did not do particularly well with moderate Republicans and independents. Independents coming in to caucus are the first clear, if imperfect, indication of how these key swing voters will vote in November, and with Obama vulnerable among this critically important group, Romney’s weakness, as the so-called moderate in the race, is particularly telling.

“And while Romney won half of all voters most concerned with beating Obama in November, he was also the strong first choice of those who supported their candidate with reservations. Not a harbinger of good for a prospective nominee.”

Again, why does this make Romney the best candidate in the general election?

Worse yet, for those who would unite the party, Schoen explains: “Romney backers lack passionate commitment to their candidate. And Paul and Santorum backers seem so committed to their candidates’ worldviews, they are unlikely to support anyone else.”

In case you were wondering, Tea Party voters were equally split among the top three candidates.

The dreaded Tea Party juggernaut also seems divided against itself.

The Tea Party was a grass roots organization. It has prided itself on being leaderless. It had a clear message, but it did not have a single messenger.

Now, the Tea Party movement has largely been silent about the Republican nomination battle.

Matched against an organized Republican establishment the Tea Party is flailing. Unable to unite around a viable candidate who expresses its principles the Tea Party is rendering itself obsolescent.

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