Post-Florida, Pre-Tsunami

OK guys... here's the view from the poop deck of Tarratine (G&T in hand).

At this point in the recent history of the Republican Party, it is ironic where we find ourselves. For the past fifty years the dynamics of the part have centered around a battle between the Country Club Republicans (Henry Cabot Lodge) and the Western Conservatives (Barry Goldwater). With a short interlude in the personage of Richard Nixon, the CC Republicans ran the show until 1980, when Ronald Reagan blew the doors off the dynamic and shifted the balance of power to the Western Republicans.

In more recent years, a third power block has emerged, the Christian Right. Still less influential than either of the older blocks, the Christian Right has emerged to a play a similar role as African-Americans play in the Democrat Party. These values voters are solidly Republican, have been more than a little ignored by their own party, and are increasingly agitating for more influence in the party.

Ronald Reagan united these three interest groups under a conservative financial, foreign policy and social policy platform. He drove these voting blocks into a movement which has lasted forty years. George H.W. Bush, a CC Republican, co-opted the movement and carried it forward for four years. In the end, the increasingly conservative party did not have a stomach for his CC roots, and Pappy Bush was defeated in a three candidate General Election. George W. Bush, a very skillful political strategist with strong Western roots and an evangelical tilt, pulled the party back together and led in what history will increasingly come to appreciate as a successful presidency.

So here we are. At this point in the primary schedule, we have each component of the tripartite party represented by individual candidates. Mike Huckabee leads the Christian Right. He is expected to take most of the Bible Belt states. Mitt Romney, whose father was one of the most successful CC Republican in the post-war period, is running for the fiscal conservative block. And John McCain, a man whose has the strongest roots are in the Goldwater/Reagan Western conservative roots of the party, finds his strength in the conservative foreign policy wing of the coalition.

And that is the great irony. Mitt Romney has the fiscal conservative base, but is really a CC Republican. John McCain is a Western Republican, but since starting his run for the presidency ten years ago, has moved to the center in order to capture the early primaries in liberal states. The man who should be seen as the centrist (Romney) has morphed himself into a conservative. And the man who should be seen as the conservative (McCain) has morphed himself into the centrist. Only Mike Huckabee, the slickmeister from the South, is really running as who he is - a populist Southerner who wears his religion on his sleeve.

So what does all this mean for Tsunami Tuesday? Apparently the smart money thinks that Romney and Huckabee are going to split the conservative core of the party, allowing McCain to slip by with a plurality of the Republican primary voters. Politicians being politicians, Republican Party leaders are lining up behind McCain now, so that when the jobs are doled out, they won't be forgotten.

But funny things happen in elections. After all, the people have something to say. If you start digging around in the numbers, there are plausible scenarios for either McCain or Romney being nominated. McCain may win New York, New England and New Jersey, but Romney looks very good in Massachusetts's, Utah, Colorado and some of the upper Midwest. Further, if Romney continues to surge, he could surprise people in states like Georgia and Tennessee.

Further, McCain often can't help from saying the types of things that have gotten him lauding features from the mainstream media for all these years. For instance, in yesterday's debate, he said that people on Wall Street needed to be "punished" for the sub-prime mortgage mess. When conservatives hear things like that, they walk away. There may be only a couple of days left, but we live in an internet world, and it may be enough for Romney to put up television where McCain cannot, and gain advantage there.

But lastly, there is the big show, California. If California were "winner take all", McCain might well have this in the bag. But it is not, and delegates are chosen by congressional district. Further, California Republicans are quite conservative. This is the state that nominated William Simon in its last real nomination process - a guy that makes Romney look like a liberal. There is a lot less tolerance for McCain style centrism in the California Republican Party. For all intents and purposes, California is a wash, and state where both Romney and McCain will pick up large numbers of delegates.

So, as Yogi Berry said, "it ain't over 'til it's over." If you had to bet the house, it would probably best to put your money on McCain. But this very well could go beyond Tsunami Tuesday and all the way to Texas. With core conservatives coming out strongly against McCain, Romney may just pull it off. It's best to pay close attention to things on Tuesday, and see if the Republican Party is going to hand the election to the Democrats. If McCain is nominated, it is certain that is what will happen.

1 comments:

Kimmie

1:02 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with you! We live in Texas and have been fighting McCain all summer on his amnesty bills. I can't figure out why anyone would consider McCain based on his record, just immigration alone makes me crazy!