Running as a Moderate: A Losing Proposition for Republicans


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There are two competing lines of conventional wisdom about how to win an election.  Both make sense in theory and both are argued by people of good will and of serious intellect and accomplishment.  Which one is right is of no small importance since winning this election will most assuredly determine the fate of America and may well determine the eventual fate of the world.

The first argument — often voiced by Michael Medved — is that since elections are won in the middle (and there is no doubt that at least in a sense they are) the best way to assure victory is to choose the most centrist of the available candidates.  The idea is that whoever the nominee is in either party, he is assured of the overwhelming majority of those who fall on his side of the political spectrum, the battle then, is for a simple majority of the remainder.

If Medved is right – and defeating Barack Obama trumps all of your other concerns – then Mitt Romney is your guy.

The second is the strategy employed by “The Architect,” Karl Rove.  Its premise is that since elections are won in the middle, make the number of votes one needs to win from the middle as few as possible.  This is accomplished by growing, energizing and getting out the folks on your side of the political spectrum, something that is best accomplished by the Republicans by choosing a true and articulate conservative.  In the remainder of this year’s crop, that would be Newt Gingrich or, if things change, Rick Santorum.

So, which one of these strategies is right?  Let’s dig deeper.

The “centrist” strategy is based on the assumption that party affiliation is about even in America and, in fact, it is (35.4-to-32.7)  If this were as far as it went, then the “centrist” theory would be right.  But a new survey from the Gallup Organization – confirming the results from previous such surveys — offers very different numbers when it comes to voters’ ideological affiliations, with Americans self-identifying as conservative almost two-to-one rather than liberal (40-21).

If you buy into my assumption that Conservatives are more to the right than are Republicans and Liberals are more to the Left than are Democrats, then the political spectrum would go like this (from right-to-left) Conservative (40) – Republican (35) –Democrat (33) –Liberal (21)[1].

Conventional wisdom is that as you get to the “extremes” you find more fervent supporters but fewer of them.  But that is not what these numbers show.  These numbers show that the furthest right candidate gets the most support not only from within his own party, but across the entire spectrum.  Further, the more to the left he moves, the more support he loses, going from 40 as a Conservative to 35 as a Republican, to 33 as a Democrat to just 21 as a Liberal.

The conventional wisdom is wrong, then, in another sense.  “The center” where elections are to be won is not found somewhere between Democrat and Republican or conservative and liberal, equidistant from each, it is significantly further to the right.

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  • ObamaYoMoma

    The first argument — often voiced by Michael Medved — is that since elections are won in the middle (and there is no doubt that at least in a sense they are) the best way to assure victory is to choose the most centrist of the available candidates. 

    If Medved is right – and defeating Barack Obama trumps all of your other concerns – then Mitt Romney is your guy.

    I disagree with Medved and I also disagree with this lame writer that Mitt Romney is the most centrist of the candidates. In 2008 Mitt Romney was the most conservative candidate that conservatives like me rallied and coalesced around to try to stop John McCain. Then all of a sudden, according to the media's narrative, Mitt Romney is the most moderate candidate in the 2012 race, despite the fact that his platform from 2008 to 2012 is identical and hasn't changed one iota.

    What changed between 2008 and 2012 instead was the medias narrative, which depends on the sentiments of the nation. The sentiments of the nation this time around is to elect the most conservative candidate. Therefore, since the media always manipulates the election towards the most moderate candidate to win, it is reversing the narrative this time around and mis-portraying Romney as being the most moderate candidate and Gingrich as being the most conservative candidate, which isn't hard to do since Romney is from liberal Taxachusetts and Gingrich is from the South, although he's resided in Washington DC suburbs for decades because he is a professional career politician and Washington insider maintaining offices on K Street. However, just the opposite is true, Romney is the most conservative candidate and Gingrich is easily the most moderate candidate.

    Indeed, of the three viable Republican candidates, Paul doesn't count, Gingrich is the only one that is pro-amnesty. In fact, Gingrich is saying that any conservative that doesn't support amnesty for illegal immigrants lacks humanity. In other words, conservatives that believe in the rule of law lack humanity. Does that sound like a conservative?

    He is also the first Republican in history to resort to running bogus Alinsky like anti-capitalist attack ads to attack a fellow Republican, the free enterprise system, Bain Capital, and Mitt Romney, where he either paid off the people appearing in the anti-capitalist attack ad or deliberately misquoted them out of context without their prior knowledge or consent. Under normal circumstances Gingrich's blasphemy would result in his excommunication from the Republican Party, but the lamestream media is covering up for him instead.

    Meanwhile, Gingrich also teamed up with the lamestream media to launch coordinated Alinsky like class warfare attacks against Romney because Romney wouldn't release his tax return in the middle of January like Gingrich was demanding and because like most Americans he hadn't received back all his necessary forms yet to file his taxes.

    However, that didn't matter as the lamestream media tore into Romney with a vengeance demonizing him as being a mega rich corporate raider and evil capitalist predator who maintained Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island investments, and never mind the fact that Romney's money is locked away in a blind trust that he doesn't control, that like most people he hadn't received all of his paper work necessary to file his taxes yet, that it would be extremely poor strategy to release his tax returns so early in the game and open himself up to unnecessary attacks from the left, that Rick Santorum and Ron Paul likewise weren't prepared to release their taxes either, but nevertheless it wasn't an issue for them. Only for Romney because Gingrich demanded he release his tax returns in coordination with the lamestream media in the middle of January.

    Anyway the lamestream media in coordination with the Gingrich campaign relentlessly demonized Romney as an evil vulture capitalist and mega rich predatory corporate raider with Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island investments until his poll numbers dropped precipitously and Gingrich ended up winning South Carolina, which is supposed to be the “bell weather state.”

    In any event, the entire South Carolina fiasco was nothing but a gigantic lamestream media manipulation campaign waged against Romney in favor of Gingrich, because Gingrich is the least conservative candidate in the race. Not only that but Gingrich is also a career politician and Washington insider, and the lamestream media wants business as usual to continue in Washington DC. Hence, the last thing the lamestream media wants to see is a Washington outsider like Romney who may shake things up in Washington DC get elected, because they have a vested interest in maintaining business as usual in Washington DC.

    Apparently, this lame a$$ writer is part of the media manipulation campaign or otherwise he is an easily manipulated loon.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    The second is the strategy employed by “The Architect,” Karl Rove. Its premise is that since elections are won in the middle, make the number of votes one needs to win from the middle as few as possible. This is accomplished by growing, energizing and getting out the folks on your side of the political spectrum, something that is best accomplished by the Republicans by choosing a true and articulate conservative. In the remainder of this year’s crop, that would be Newt Gingrich or, if things change, Rick Santorum.

    If anyone is gullible enough to believe that Rove's candidate in 2000, GWB, was a true and articulate conservative instead of a big government liberal that was also blinded to the hilt by PC multiculturalism, then they also must believe that Bill Clinton didn't inhale.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

    You're making some good points here, OYM. I'm feeling better about Romney. Obvious he's no Ronald Reagan but neither are the others. If Romney can defend individual rights and the free market, he'll get my vote. He needs to make clear (to the general voter) what he stands for if his victory is going to be a mandate.

    He also has to take down Obama. Obama claims he's for capitalism but with a little nip and tuck (i.e. regulation). In actuality, he's for massive expansion of government control. Obama knows that he can't show his colors. His rhetoric plays to the right of center when he says "we can't go back to the old ways" but never tells us what the old ways are. If the old ways were easy finance what is the current regime with subsidized mortgages (90% of all new mortgages) often with as little downpayment as 3.5%? If the old way was Greenspan's multi-year 1% low interest rate easy money, what is the new way of 0% until 2014? Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley are killing us but no one is talking about the "new way" of government management of industry. Why? Because Obama is empty rhetoric. He won't admit he's a socialist for obvious reasons.

    Romney knows this but he has to expose the Obama fraud. He has to say Obama is a liar … plain and simple. OK, with a little more class that I have … but make it clear.

  • Jim_C

    What you guys fail to get is that even Ronald Reagan was "moderate" by today's standards. His pragmatism, in fact, would be seen as a "sellout" today and it's possible he'd even take the term "RINO."

    On the other hand, there are few candidates who can make the case for pure ideology in such a way that "middle" will be accepting. Reagan had a gift for wrapping some conservative points in a nifty slogan.

    But Medved is right to a point. The two most viable candidates were, in my opinion, Hunstman (ANYONE disaffected by Obama would have voted for him, and conservatives would have come around) and (sort of) Ron Paul. Paul, because whether you like him or don't, you BELIEVE him, and you believe he is not beholden to anyone the way every other candidate has been. And there's nothing mean about him. That's fairly charismatic.

    No one in their right mind believes Romney or Gingrich.

  • Philosopher

    OBM: Thanks for the info. Very helpful. But please cease the insults against anyone who disagrees with you. Calling Evan Sayet a "lame a$$" and part of the conspiracy of the mainstream media makes you look like an extremist nut. The last thing we need to do is create such division among opponents of Obama that he ends up getting re-elected. Try using the more positive and inclusive approach. If you think I'm the enemy for saying this, I just want to inform you that I also voted for Romney in the primary last time around.

  • http://evansayet.com evan sayet

    Please note, I did not declare any of the candidates what they may or may not in reality be. I said "runnning as" and I don't believe I'd get much disagreement that Romney is running as the more moderate of the two candidates.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      I don't believe I'd get much disagreement that Romney is running as the more moderate of the two candidates.

      You may be right, but that would only means that there are a lot of ill informed and very ignorant people out there. Romney's positions are clearly more conservative than Gingrich's. For instance, Gingrich claims that conservatives who don't support amnesty for illegal immigrants lack humanity. In other words, Gingrich believes that conservatives that support the rule of law lack humanity. You may consider that to be a conservative position, but please forgive me if I don't.

      Indeed, Gingrich supported a federal healthcare individual mandate until at least last May when he reiterated his support for it on "Meet the Press." Today he condemns Romney as a moderate for Romneycare. However, Romneycare came straight from The Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank and indeed, Bob Moffit, Heritage's senior fellow on healthcare issues, can be seen in the picture of the bill-signing ceremony standing proudly behind Romney. Not to mention that the Wall Street Journal last month published an op-ed written by Newt Gingrich in 2006 where Gingrich endorsed Romneycare 100 percent. Hence, isn't Gingrich more than just a little hypocritical, as he supported Romneycare 100 percent long before he didn't support it.

      In addition, unlike Gingrich, Romney never ever supported federal healthcare insurance mandates, while, on the other hand, Gingrich supported a FEDERAL individual mandate to purchase healthcare insurance from 1993 until five minutes ago, but somehow he is more conservative than Romney. Yeah right.

      Not to mention that Gingrich famously embarrassed a ton of conservatives when he conceded a very well publicized debate on Global Warming to of all people Senator John Kerry. Then if that wasn't enough, he later videotaped a PSA with Nancy Pelosi urging Congress to act on Global Warming, including passing cap and trade legislation. Excuse me but I don't recall Romney ever sitting down with Nancy Pelosi to videotape a PSA for anything much less Global Warming. Obviously, Gingrich was paid off to so abruptly change his position so dramatically and so fast.

      Romney could not be more forceful in saying he will issue a 50-state waiver to Obamacare his first day in office and then seek its formal repeal. But when asked in the CNBC debate last November to explain what he would do to fix healthcare, Gingrich attacked the question as "absurd" and said he would need a "several-hour period" to answer it, and that is exactly how Newt got his reputation for being a good debater, by beating up the media.

      Indeed, in the last Fox News debate he was deemed to have won the debate by beating up sacrificial lamb, Juan Williams, and in the CNN debate, he was perceived to have won the debate by beating up John King, even though he has now been forced to admit that he had lied in his response to John King, but fortunately enough for him not until after he had already won the South Carolina primary.

      Gingrich also took $1.6 million to shill for Freddie Mac, when first asked about it initially he claimed he was being paid to be a "historian," but if you believe that Gingrich was paid $30,000/hr to be a historian, then you must believe that Bill Clinton didn't inhale.

      In the last Iowa debate, Michelle Bachman tried to get to the bottom of it twice, but all Gingrich did was change the subject until he ran out of time. Then Michelle interjected that she was still not satisfied with his answer, where again Gingrich changed the subject until he eventually ran out of time. Obviously, Gingrich was either bribed to keep his mouth shut or was influence pedaling on behalf of Freddie Mac. Otherwise, he wouldn't still be beating around the bush after all these months.

      Then Gingrich next launched a bogus Alinsky like anti-capitalist attack on a fellow Republican, the free enterprise system, Bain Capital, and Mitt Romney. Fox News Sunday reports that some participants in the infamous anti-capitalist attack ad admit to being paid by Gingrich cronies, and then Fox News conducts a live interview with two more people that appeared in Gingrich's bogus anti-capitalist attack ad that claim they were misquoted out of context and without their consent or knowledge. Then Fox News suddenly deep sixes the interview, which would have discredited Gingrich, and joins the coordinated class warfare attacks on Romney for not releasing his income tax return in response to Gingrich's demands in the middle of January no less as I already explained in my previous post.

      Yeah right, you can believe that Romney is running as the more moderate of the two candidates only if you are smoking crack.

  • Memphis

    "If you buy into my assumption that Conservatives are more to the right than are Republicans and Liberals are more to the Left than are Democrats, then the political spectrum would go like this (from right-to-left) Conservative (40) – Republican (35) –Democrat (33) –Liberal (21)"

    I do not buy this. My experience is that the more conservative someone is, the more likely they will be a declared Republican. Maybe Evan is confused by the existence of an actual Conservative party in New York.

    Glad to see Evan writing, however. Ever seen his Heritage Foundation talk on YouTube? Brilliant.

  • Amused

    lol…what to do ….what to do ? 85% of Americans are fed up with the B.S. pissing contest going on , they are for compromise .As the candidates jockey for position ,trying to prove that they are the most conservative , the most "un-compromising " of the lot , they are ignoring those 85% . So whoever is left standing , will spend the remainder of the campaign back-peddling on the radical statements and promises they had to make to pass the "conservative litmus test " .There are more Centrists and Independents in this country than there are Reps & Dems . In addition they exist in both parties.when it comes to a Presidential election .These are the part of the electorate that do not vote by emotion.

  • http://www.americanselect.org/ Chris

    There is a new primary that is open to all political parties! Go to AmericansElect.org to find out more about this new electoral process.