July 22, 2009
How many anti-Romneys this time?
What's a RINO these days? Someone who voted for McCain instead of a third party candidate? Someone who prefers Mitt Romney to Sarah Palin? Don't get me wrong. I prefer Sarah Palin to Mitt Romney, but that does not mean that I think Romney supporters are RINOs.
The problem with the call-everyone-who-disagrees-a-RINO approach is that it makes RINOs out of a majority (or at least a near majority) of Republican voters, something I do not think desirable if we assume the Republicans' goal is to defeat Barack Obama.
Speaking of the looming RINO threat, here's a recent statistic:
When Romney is the Republican nominee, he beats Obama among unaffiliated voters 48% to 41%. But when Palin is the GOP candidate, unaffiliated voters prefer Obama by a 47% to 41% margin.I think there is a paranoid element at work among certain Republicans which saw the last primary as rigged by RINO elitists to disenfranchise them and shove John McCain down their throats. How this happened, I'm not sure. I can remember when the McCain candidacy was a total joke. Seriously, the man was speaking to nearly empty houses, and carried his own suitcases as he wandered pathetically around in search of supporters. This is not to say that he wasn't a RINO, or that Giuliani wasn't a RINO. But what happened on the right was that the stronger Mitt Romney got, the stronger Mike Huckabee (the anti-Romney) got. The next time around, I think it's clear that McCain will not run. If Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin both run, they will run as anti-Romneys, and if Huckabee runs again, that's too many anti-Romneys in the race. (A situation which favors Romney, of course.) Newt has been officially pretty quiet about Sarah Palin, but he's working feverishly to derail her.
Republican primary voters can be a contrary sort of people, and contrary people not only don't like being called names, but calling them names can persuade them to do precisely the opposite of what the name-callers think they're trying to do. If the anti-RINO activist mood really sets in -- to the point where Romney supporters are called RINOs -- that might tend to increase the number of Romney supporters to the point where "Romney RINOs" become a Republican majority.
And of course, the anyone-but-Romney, real-and-principled Republicans will get Romney, and they'll have to sit the election out in a principled manner (or vote for a third party, as real Republicans should).
Fortunately, the election is so far off that most people aren't concerned yet, much less reduced to infighting. The non-activists who vote can therefore sit back quietly and ignore the insults, until it's their turn.
posted by Eric on 07.22.09 at 11:56 AM
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