Republicans' problem with GOP voters
Official Washington hailed the deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff as a significant bipartisan accomplishment. However, voters around the country viewed the deal in very partisan terms: Seven out of 10 Democrats approved of it while seven out of 10 Republicans disapproved.
Just a few days after reaching that agreement, an inside-the-Beltway publication reported another area of bipartisan agreement. Politico explained that while Washington Democrats have always viewed GOP voters as a problem, Washington Republicans “in many a post-election soul-searching session” have come to agree. More precisely, the article said the party's Election 2012 failures have “brought forth one principal conclusion from establishment Republicans: They have a primary problem.”
As seen from the halls of power, the problem is that Republican voters think it's OK to replace incumbent senators and congressman who don't represent the views of their constituents. In 2012, for example, Republican voters in Indiana dumped longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in a primary battle.
This infuriated establishment Republicans for two reasons. First, because they liked Lugar and the way he worked. Second, because the replacement candidate was flawed and allowed Democrats to win what should have been a safe Republican seat.
So, according to Politico, the Washington team is gearing up a new effort to protect incumbents and limit the ability of Republican voters to successfully challenge establishment candidates.
That makes sense to those whose sole goal is winning a majority in Congress rather than changing the course of government policy. Seen from the outside, though, it sounds like the professional politicians are saying that the only way to win is to pick more candidates like the insiders. Hearing that message, the reaction of many Republican and conservative voters is, “Why bother?”
That's why more than two-thirds of Republican voters believe GOP officials in Washington have lost touch with the party's base.
Establishment Republicans have two choices: They can act as mature party leaders of a national political party or they can protect their own self-interest.
Mature party leaders would spend a lot more time listening to Republican voters rather than further insulating themselves from those voters. They would try to understand why just 37 percent of Republicans nationwide believe the economy is fair. They would give serious thought to why just half of GOP voters have a favorable opinion of House Speaker John Boehner, the highest-ranking elected Republican in the nation.
Then mature party leaders would chart a realistic course to address these concerns and share those plans with the voters.
To succeed, this course would have to include some painful medicine for the establishment, such as giving up corporate welfare programs that benefit their friends and allies. It also would require helping Republican voters identify primary candidates who challenge the establishment but could be effective on the campaign trail.
This is a much tougher course to follow — one that would benefit the party and the nation. Unfortunately, by seeking to protect the insiders from the voters, all indications are that most establishment Republicans would rather blame the voters and keep their perks.
Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of Rasmussen Reports.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Chryst a miserable failure at Pitt
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Police investigate alleged institutional sexual assault
- Pitt players support Rudolph for job
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers
- Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL
- Pitt football fights to overcome steppingstone status
- Warning about cop-killer came moments too late
- South Fayette football team distributes Steelers tickets to Carlynton, Wilkinsburg
- Steelers notebook: Bell says he’s prepared to test Chiefs defense
- Pittsburgh police break up customer fights over Air Jordan 11 shoes