The Ripon Forum

Volume 40, No. 5

Oct - Nov 2006 Issue

A Key to Victory for Republicans this Fall

By on October 21, 2015 with 0 Comments

We can’t forget about Centrists and Independents

by SARAH CHAMBERLAIN RESNICK

Five polls in August. Five double-digit generic ballot advantages for Democrats. One giant headache for the GOP majorities. 

For months now, we as Republicans have repeated the mantra, “thank God it’s not November, a lot can change between now and then.” Well it’s not yet November, but with less than 50 days until the mid-term elections, it is clear that our Congressional majorities are in real danger. 

Elections expert Larry Sabato issued this ominous August prediction: “Historical trends and big picture indicators – generic congressional ballot tests and approval ratings of President Bush’s job performance in particular – have always been heavily stacked against the GOP in this ‘sixth year itch’ cycle, but aggregations of more race-specific indicators are now suggesting that Republicans are headed for their most serious mid-term losses in decades.” 

A closer look at the polls makes it easy to understand why Sabato would reach the conclusion he did. Despite all the talk of growing conservative dissatisfaction with  Congress and the President, the real danger to our majorities can be found in the plummeting support for Republicans across the board by independent voters.   

In key district after key district, in the battlegrounds where our majority will be won or lost, Democratic challengers are building substantial leads among independent voters. If this large lead among independents is to hold, or – even worse – to grow, we could see a tidal wave of disastrous proportions for the GOP.  

For months, the far right in our party told us we needed to do more to excite the social conservative base. We had meaningless votes on gay marriage, video gambling, and abortion, and we had the President’s veto of potentially life-saving stem cell research. All of this was intended to “excite” the base. Unfortunately, the result of months of “exciting the base” is a looming electoral disaster for the Republican Party. 

girlA look at the polling from the top 50 most competitive Congressional districts shows that the use of these divisive wedge issues has seriously backfired among independent voters. In the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research study, 52 percent of independents in the 50 most competitive districts said that the stem cell research issue made them more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress. Only 25 percent of independents in these districts said that the issue of stem cell research made them more likely to vote for the Republican candidate. The result is a net negative of 27 percent – the largest of any issue polled. Indeed, “values issues” in general, including gay marriage and flag burning, polled almost as poorly. Almost half, 49 percent, of independents in these swing districts said that values issues made them more likely to vote for the Democrat, while only 29 percent of these same voters said values issues made them more likely to vote for the Republican – a net negative of 20 percent. 

Growing dissatisfaction with the direction of the GOP’s legislative agenda, particularly as it relates to divisive social issues, led to polling that shows the Democrats enjoying a 10 point ballot advantage among the top tier most competitive races in the country.   

In the closing days of these critical mid-term elections, our party must return to its “big tent” roots and make the case to centrist Republicans, independents, and Reagan Democrats. At this point in the game, it’s really a matter of basic math. Without these key swing voters, our Party could lose control of one or both Houses of Congress. 

In the closing days of these critical mid-term elections, our party must return to its “big tent” roots and make the case to centrist Republicans, independents, and Reagan Democrats.

Centrist Republicans have laid out an aggressive legislative agenda that should serve as a road map for Republican efforts to attract critical independent and centrist voters. The Republican Main Street Partnership’s “Promise for America” is built on the central theme of security. The Promise for America recognizes that security is the fundamental building block on which success in every facet of life is built, and offers common sense pragmatic solutions to the challenges facing our country. 

The Promise for America calls for: Securing Tax Cuts, Deficit Reduction and Improving Competitiveness; Securing Retirement Benefits and Health Care for Seniors, Veterans and Families; Securing Our Future through Math and Science Education, Safe Schools and Research and Development; Securing Energy Independence, While Protecting Our Environment; and Securing America through Diplomacy and Peace through Strength. 

Offering a legislative agenda that reflects the values and priorities of average Americans, while setting aside divisive wedge-issues, will give our candidates the opportunity to reach out to critical swing and independent voters. 

It is not too late to salvage the 2006 midterm elections. This election will not be won or lost based on what the disorganized Democrats do. Rather, it will be won or lost based on what we as Republicans do.  Now is the time to embrace the big tent Republican Party that Ronald Reagan built – it is the only way to protect our GOP majorities.  RF


Sarah Chamberlain Resnick is the Executive Director of the Republican Main Street Partnership.

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