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“They Just Want Somebody To Fall In Love With”: Republican Voters Do Not Give A Flying Comb-Over About Who Is Electable

The parlor game for 2016 campaign observers is based on a straightforward question: “If Donald Trump’s support is eventually going to fall, what will be the cause?”

The “if” poses its own challenge, but even if we accept the premise, it’s not unreasonable to wonder what will cause Trump’s lead in the polls to evaporate. Some Republicans assume this is a fleeting fad that cannot be sustained . Others believe the GOP’s primary contest won’t really begin in earnest until after the debates begin and TV ads start airing, making Trump’s early surge irrelevant. Still others assume the former reality-show host will eventually say something so outrageous that he’ll effectively commit political suicide.

But the point that brings comfort to many in the political establishment is the issue of electability – Trump would face extremely long odds as a general-election candidate, and Republican primary voters, desperate for a win, will start thinking strategically in 2016.

Or will they? As Rachel noted on the show last night, the latest NBC News/Marist poll asked Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire for their 2016 preferences, but they also asked a question that was arguably more interesting:

“Which is more important to you: a Republican nominee for president who shares your position on most issues, or a Republican nominee for president who has the best chance of winning the White House?”

The results weren’t even close. In New Hampshire, 67% of GOP voters want a candidate they agree with, while only 29% are principally concerned with electability. In Iowa, the results were practically identical.

This isn’t about Trump, per se. This is about what we’re learning about Republican voters themselves.

With the NBC poll in mind, Rachel’s take on the state of the race rings true:

“He’s the only top-tier Republican candidate who loses by double digits. not only to Hillary Clinton, but also to Bernie Sanders. But Republican voters want him anyway. And that ends up not being an interesting thing about Donald Trump. It’s an interesting thing about Republican voters. They keep picking him, and they know he would lose, but they like him anyway. They know he’s going to lose, and they don’t care. They love this guy.

“So, all this beltway analysis that says that Donald Trump’s star is going to fall, because all of the ways in which he is not electable, right, there’s the reason all that punditry, and all that beltway common wisdom keeps getting proven wrong with each new passing day and each new poll showing Donald Trump on top, because Republican voters do not give a flying comb-over about who is electable. They just want somebody to fall in love with, and they have fallen in love with him.”

Remember, we’ve seen this before in the recent past. Republicans could have won a Senate race in Delaware, but they wanted a candidate who made them happy (Christie O’Donnell), not a candidate who would win (Mike Castle). They could have won a Senate race in Indiana, but they wanted an ideologically satisfying candidate (Richard Mourdock), not a candidate with broad appeal (Richard Lugar).

Sure, this may change. Trump’s role in the race has been unpredictable thus far, so no one can say with confidence what the race will look like in early 2016.

But the GOP base has been told repeatedly – by party leaders, by conservative media, even by Republican candidates – that compromise is wrong. Concessions of any kind are offensive.

It’s a little late in the game for the same party to tell these same voters not to support the unelectable guy at the top of the polls.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 31, 2015

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Republican Voters | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Lipstick On A Pig”: You Can Teach Republicans What They Shouldn’t Say, But That Won’t Change What They Believe

When someone asks you if a victim of rape should be compelled by the state to carry a resulting pregnancy to term, it is not a gaffe if you reply that this hypothetical almost never happens because women’s bodies have a way of preventing conception when they are under stress. It’s also not a gaffe to reply that, while it is certainly unfortunate that rape babies are occasionally produced, it’s all part of God’s plan and clearly God wants that baby to come into the world. These responses are not gaffes because they are actually honest responses that reflect what Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, respectively, actually believe.

A gaffe should be understood as an event where you actually say something that you didn’t mean to say or where you are caught being misinformed about some issue. While Todd Akin was misinformed about how human reproduction actually works, it was still how he thought human reproduction works. Call that one a half-gaffe. You can teach politicians what they shouldn’t say, but that won’t change what they believe. That’s why the following will not work very well:

The National Republican Congressional Committee wants to make sure there are no Todd Akin-style gaffes next year, so it’s meeting with top aides of sitting Republicans to teach them what to say — or not to say — on the trail, especially when their boss is running against a woman.

Speaker John Boehner is serious, too. His own top aides met recently with Republican staff to discuss how lawmakers should talk to female constituents.

“Let me put it this way, some of these guys have a lot to learn,” said a Republican staffer who attended the session in Boehner’s office.

There have been “multiple sessions” with the NRCC where aides to incumbents were schooled in “messaging against women opponents,” one GOP aide said.

When Todd Akin said that women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” he was suggesting that any woman who does get pregnant must have consented to have sex in some way. That’s what he believes. When Richard Mourdock said that pregnancies that result from rape are a “gift from God” and “something that God intended to happen,” he was suggesting that women should be grateful for their very unwanted pregnancies. That is what he believes.

Perhaps both men could have been elected to the U.S. Senate if they had just been counseled to keep their mouths shut or to repeat some GOP-approved talking point instead of saying what they actually believe. Personally, I think the electorate was better able to make a choice in those elections because the candidates were honest.

Wouldn’t it be better to nominate people who don’t believe things that make women want to flee rather than “guys [that] have a lot to learn”?

The problem isn’t the messaging. The problem is “these guys.”

 

By: Martin Longman, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 7, 2013

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Republicans, Women | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Crazier Than His Chronological Age”: Montana Judge’s Comments Show His Ignorance About Rape

Generally, the courts in Montana go about their business without much notice outside the state.

But after 29 years on the bench of the 13th District Court in Montana, Judge G. Todd Baugh has brought the national spotlight to Yellowstone County and is hearing calls from across the country for his ouster after he imposed a 30-day sentence in a rape case, and said the 14-year-old victim was “as much in control of the situation” as the high school teacher who ultimately pleaded guilty. The judge also described the teenager as “being older than her chronological age,” even though the age of consent in Montana is 16.

Perhaps the judge should have just used the words that too many rape victims have heard: “She was asking for it.”

In this case, though, the victim could not hear those words. She killed herself in February 2010.

Plenty of others have heard those words. Tens of thousands of people have put their names on online petitions calling for Baugh to step down. Protesters crowded the lawn of the courthouse Thursday, vowing to campaign against him if he seeks reelection in 2014.

The judge, for his part, has apologized for his comments but not for the sentence he imposed.

In a letter to the Billings Gazette, he wrote: “In the Rambold sentencing, I made references to the victim’s age and control. I’m not sure just what I was attempting to say, but it did not come out correct.

“What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing. My apologies to all my fellow citizens.”

The apology was rejected by many people, including the rape victim’s mother, Auliea Hanlon, who told the Associated Press: “He’s just covering his butt. He wouldn’t have said anything if people hadn’t spoken up. He didn’t reverse his decision, so it’s irrelevant.”

While  Baugh’s actions have sparked outrage, this is one of many instances of “pushback” that author Susan Brownmiller has seen since the publication of her groundbreaking book “Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape” in 1975.

She emphasized that in the Montana case, the girl was 14, making her “incapable of giving an informed consent.”

“The consent laws are very clear about that,” Brownmiller said in a telephone interview. “A 14-year-old, by law, is not responsible.”

She added, “There are a lot of guys in positions of authority, like a judge, who really have no idea of what rape is.”

Other examples include former U.S. representative Todd Akin of Missouri, who lost a campaign for Senate after he said that women who are victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant, and Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who said in a campaign for the U.S. Senate: “Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

At least some do understand what rape is and are speaking out, including Pete Taylor, a 51-year-old head waiter at a restaurant in Billings who attended the protest wearing a T-shirt on which he had written “14 is 14.”

 

By: Carla Baranauckas, She The People, The Washington Post, August 30, 2013

September 1, 2013 Posted by | Violence Against Women, War On Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Brace Yourselves Republicans”: Three New Facts About The Tea Party That You’re Not Going To Like

For a movement that’s helped to reshape the Republican Party—and by extension, reshape American politics—we know shockingly little about the people who make up the Tea Party. While some in the GOP once hoped to co-opt the movement, it’s increasingly unclear which group—the Tea Party or establishment Republicans—is running the show. Politicians have largely relied on conjecture and assumption to determine the positions and priorities of Tea Party activists.

Until now. The results of the first political science survey of Tea Party activists show that the constituency isn’t going away any time soon—and Republicans hoping the activists will begin to moderate their stances should prepare for disappointment. Based out of the College of William and Mary, the report surveyed more than 11,000 members of FreedomWorks, one of the largest and most influential Tea Party groups. The political scientists also relied on a separate survey of registered voters through the YouGov firm to compare those who identified with the Tea Party movement to those Republicans who did not. (Disclosure: The political scientist leading the survey was my father, Ronald Rapoport, with whom I worked in writing this piece.)

For the first time, we can now look at what a huge sample of Tea Party activists believe, as well as examine how those who identify with the Tea Party differ from their establishment GOP counterparts. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the study:

1. Tea Party activists are not Republicans.

Republicans are now reliant on the Tea Party. While the number of Tea Party supporters has declined since 2010, they still make up around half of Republicans, according to NBC/Wall Street Journal surveys. More important, they are the most active supporters when it comes to voting in primaries, volunteering on campaigns, and participating in various other activities political parties are reliant upon. Seventy-three percent of Republicans who attended a political rally or meeting identified with the Tea Party. The activists are vehemently anti-Democratic. Among the FreedomWorks sample, only 3 percent of people voted for Obama or a Democratic House candidate in 2008, and less than 6 percent identify as either independents or Democrats.

Yet the Tea Party activists doing work for the Republicans are surprisingly negative about the party they’re helping. While 70 percent of FreedomWorks activists identify as Republican, another 23 percent reject the Republican label entirely and instead, when asked which political party they identify with, choose “other.” Asked if they considered themselves more Republican or more a Tea Party member, more than three-quarters chose Tea Party.

Given that so many don’t identify with the GOP, it’s perhaps not surprising that the activists also rate the party they vote for so poorly. Given a spectrum of seven choices from “outstanding” to “poor,” only 9 percent of activists rated the Republican Party in the top two categories. Meanwhile, 17 percent put the party in the bottom two. In total, 32 percent rated the party in one of the three positive categories while a whopping 40 percent rated the party in one of the negative ones.

In other words, the activists providing a huge amount of the labor and enthusiasm for Republican candidates are, at best, lukewarm on the party they’re voting for. Few are concerned about what their impact on the future of the GOP will be. Which brings us to:

2. Tea Party activists aren’t nearly as concerned about winning.

Or at least they’re significantly more concerned with ideological purity than with political pragmatism. The survey asked FreedomWorks activists if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “When we feel strongly about political issues, we should not be willing to compromise with our political opponents.” Altogether, more than 80 percent agreed to some extent. Thirty-two percent of respondents “agree strongly” with the statement. Meanwhile, less than 10 percent disagreed even “slightly.” In another series of questions sent out to FreedomWorks activists, the survey asked whether they would prefer a candidate with whom they agree on most important issues but who polls far behind the probable Democratic nominee or a candidate with whom they agree “on some of the most important issues” but who’s likely to win. More than three-fourths of respondents preferred the candidate who was more likely to lose but shared their positions.

In other words, the Tea Party cares more about what nominees believe than whether they can win—and compromising on politics means compromising on principle.

The findings help explain what’s happened in so many GOP primary races.  Both nationally and at the state level, moderate GOP officeholders found themselves with primary challengers. The Tea Party has helped propel several upstart candidacies, like Christine O’Donnell’s infamous effort to win Delaware’s Senate seat or more recently, Richard Mourdock’s successful challenge to sitting Senator Dick Lugar. In both of those cases, and several others, the Tea Party candidate has proved too extreme for the general election and lost. But despite the losses, the push toward conservative purity continues. A recent New York Times story showed that even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, seen as the leader with the most clout in the Tea Party movement, has been unable to move the faction’s members in his party into more moderate terrain. In light of these survey results, that makes sense—Tea Party elected officials are simply reflecting their supporters. Meanwhile, those left in the establishment fear the party’s new direction.

3. Attempts to bridge the gap between establishment Republicans and the Tea Party are doomed to fail.

There’s no shortage of moves from Republicans to keep the Tea Party in the fold while shifting things more to the center. After the dismal GOP performance in the 2012 elections, establishment figures began pushing back against the Tea Party. Famous consultant Karl Rove announced a new political action committee designed to challenge extreme GOP candidates with more marketable ones. The national party even put out a report after the 2012 losses that pushed for more pragmatic candidates that could have a broader appeal. As noted, even Eric Cantor is trying.

But the gap between the two groups is huge. In the YouGov survey the study uses, more than two-thirds of Tea Partiers put themselves in the two most conservative categories on economic policy, social policy, and overall policy. Only 23 percent of non-Tea Partiers place themselves in the most conservative categories on all three issues; nearly 40 percent don’t locate themselves in the most conservative categories for any of the three policy areas.

Most jarring: On some issues, like abolishing the Department of Education and environmental regulation, the establishment Republicans are actually closer to Democrats than they are to the Tea Party respondents. That’s a gap too large to be overcome by a few political action committees and gestures of goodwill.

Tea Party activists dominate the Republican Party, and they’re no less willing to compromise with the GOP than they are with Democrats. FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe summed it up nicely in his book title: Hostile Takeover.

Simply put, the GOP is too reliant on the Tea Party—and based on these survey results, the Tea Party doesn’t care about the GOP’s fate. It cares about moving the political conversation increasingly rightward.

 

By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, April 29, 2013

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Legitimate Rape Caucus”: Rep. Phil Gingrey Says Todd Akin Was “Partly Right” On “Legitimate Rape” Assertions

Add Georgia representative Phil Gingrey to the ever-growing list of Republicans who can’t stop making offensive comments about rape.

According to the Marietta Daily Journal, Gingrey argued during a Cobb Chamber of Commerce breakfast that failed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin was “partly right” when he claimed last year that women rarely become pregnant as the result of a “legitimate rape,” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

First, Gingrey attempted to defend Akin’s use of the term “legitimate rape”:

And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.

Then Gingrey — who is an OB-GYN, and currently serves as co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus — defended the offensive sentiment behind Akin’s gaffe, although he stopped short of fully endorsing the pseudo-science:

And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.

According to… legitimate experts, Gingrey and Akin are simply wrong. As Dr. Sharon Phelan — a fellow at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico — told CNN after Akin’s original remarks, “chronic stress can decrease fertility” but “the acute stress [caused by rape] does not have the same impact.”

Even if they never abandon the junk science that motivates the “legitimate rape” caucus, one has to wonder when Republicans will see the political costs of publicly endorsing such theories. In 2012, Akin’s remarks doomed what was seen as an almost-guaranteed Republican victory over vulnerable Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. Similarly, Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock saw his Senate campaign collapse after arguing that a child born from rape is “God intended,” and Pennsylvania Republican Tom Smith lost his Senate race by 9 percent after comparing pregnancies caused by rape to “having a baby out of wedlock.”

Although Gingrey — who won re-election with 70 percent of the vote in his conservative district — is unlikely to face direct electoral consequences for his remarks, he has certainly made life harder for his more vulnerable colleagues.

In the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney among female voters by 12 percent — representing the largest gender gap in recorded history. Unless Republicans like Phil Gingrey stop running their mouths on issues like rape — or better yet, moderate their extremist policies — the GOP’s problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, January 11, 2013

January 12, 2013 Posted by | War On Women, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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