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November 20th, 2017

Insight

The Restive Right at Election Time

Bob Tyrrell

By Bob Tyrrell

Published Sept. 25, 2014

Republicans should have a spring in their step
The 2014 midterm races are heating up. It seems to me everyone is uneasy. The Republicans have not raised enough money. The Democrats are mindful that the president is immensely unpopular, and their candidates are struggling. Some Republicans are gleeful. Will they win the six additional Senate seats to control that chamber? Could they win even more? It is beginning to look like 2014 will be almost as welcome an election for the Republicans as 2010.

In that year, the conservatives, numbering about 40 percent of the vote, combined with the independents, numbering about 35 percent of the vote, to send the Democrats packing in the House and in many statewide elections. What motivated the independents was the economy. Despite the Democrats' hopeful testimonials, the independents recognized that the economy was in the tank and they saw no signs of hope. In their view, President Barack Obama was overspending and had already run up the national debt to frightening levels. The independents often vote from fright. Usually they do not consider foreign policy, but in this election my guess is they will. The world is in a heap. Ukraine, Gaza, ISIS and the rest of the Middle East, Ebola in Africa, and, of course, the seeming chaos on our southern border — all conspire to alarm the independents. This election the independents will be moved by fright to vote on foreign policy issues as well as on the economy. They will vote Republican.

Which brings us to conservative voters, four million of whom stayed home in 2012 for whatever reason. The wise psephologists tell us that these conservatives did not like Romney. He was too bland for the tea partiers. He was Mormon, said the evangelicals. Frankly, I do not know why they stayed home given the choice between a community organizer and a former governor.

In past elections, the right was always restive. The libertarians found even Ronald Reagan too statist. The traditionalists were unhappy with whoever the candidate might be — they actually do not relish politics. Yet in the end they all came together, swallowed hard, and voted Republican. The result was usually from Reagan's election on, a Republican victory. Not in 2008, which owing to the historic first of a black person in the race was an anomaly. And not in 2012, with those errant 4 million conservatives, but usually the conservatives and the independents have won since 1980. Only in Bill Clinton's minority election of 1992, which was again an anomaly, with Ross Perot taking 19,743, 821 votes (18.9 percent), and in Clinton's re-election over a very weak Bob Dole was there a break with this symbiosis of conservatives and independents.

So what is going to happen in 2014? Well there is an excessive amount of grumbling by voters, commentators and political operators. Yet once they all settle down they have a pretty picture to contemplate. Especially in the Senate races, the Republicans have a field of young, fresh, energetic candidates. Pursuant to their sacred six Senate seats, they already have three locked up. In West Virginia, Montana and Louisiana, Democrats will give way to Republicans. What is more, in Georgia and Kentucky a shift from the Republicans to the Democrats now seems unlikely.

That leaves seven races that are very close, but where the Republicans ought to get their three additional seats. My guess is they will get more, especially with Democratic candidates at the present being supported by less than 50 percent of the vote and with the president's approval ratings weighing heavily on the Democratic ticket and getting worse by the day. I am thinking of Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire. Frankly, I could see the Republicans winning all seven. That leaves the races in Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Oregon, New Jersey and Illinois. Surely one of these states will break for Republicans.

Thus the Republicans should have a spring in their step. They are allegedly more energized. Now they need to banish the gloom and get out the vote. Oh, and one other thing. They really need to step up their fundraising. The Democrats have by far outspent the Republicans at this stage in the election. Would it not be a travesty if the Party of the Down and Out bought this election from the Republicans?

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R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a political and cultural monthly, which has been published since 1967. He's also the author of several books.

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