Alienating The Base To Appeal To The Middle Is Political Suicide

After reading my Conservative Case Against Rudy Giuliani In 2008 column, slightly rightward leaning middle-of-the-roader (How’s that for a description, lol) Ann Althouse wrote in part:

“But what about the potential to appeal to people like me who are in the middle? What I like about Giuliani is his ability to embody the strong national security position and to argue for it in clear, persuasive terms, without bringing along that social conservative baggage. All those people who vote for Democrats, are they doing it because they are into the party and all it seems to stand for? Or are they put off by the social conservatives on the other side? The social conservatives like Hawkins want Republicans to be afraid to find out.”

First off, I am more socially conservative than the average person, but I don’t consider myself to be a social conservative. Neither do the people who send me unhappy emails after I interview Republican (She switched parties and is now a Libertarian) porn stars =D.

Secondly, I am — seriously — not trying to put anyone down, but there are political realities that need to be addressed here. The reality is that social conservatives make up a very large, dependable block of Republican voters who will flock to the polls if they’re catered to or stay home if they’re not.

People in “the middle” who switch between the two major parties are a less motivated, much more fickle block of voters who can’t be relied on to win elections. That doesn’t mean their wants and desires should be ignored or that Republicans shouldn’t try to appeal to them, but if the priority is winning elections, the base has to come first.

In other words, for every “moderate” who says, “I may very well consider voting if you’ll stop fighting abortion and gay marriage,” there are two or three Republicans who are going to say, “If you don’t fight abortion and gay marriage, I’m not voting for you.”

Put yet another way, one of the biggest mistakes any Republican politician can make is to fall into the — “What are they going to do if I make them unhappy? Vote for the other guy?” — mentality. Because once you take that attitude and abandon your base on important issues in order to reach out to the middle, conservatives will abandon you right back. They won’t contribute to your campaign or show up at the voting booth and they’ll complain incessantly. Next thing you know, you’re George Bush with poll numbers mired in the high thirties and low forties because the loss of Republican support has shaved 6-8 points off of your approval rating (and yes, depending on the polling data you look at, he has lost that much REPUBLICAN support since 2004).

So, moderates? Love them, but abandoning social conservatives for moderates would be political suicide for the GOP.

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