Harry Reid's 2010 election, and why some conservatives are choosing Mitt Romney over Rick Perry

Jay Cost has his typically-thoughtful article at The Weekly Standard.  This article tells us why Mitt Romney is still the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

In 2010, Harry Reid only had an approval rating of 44%, and Obama’s approval was 46%, yet Harry Reid managed to squeek by and win re-election with just over 50% in a multi-way race.  The Republican candidate Sharron Angle won 45%.

Between the the work of mainstream media, Reid’s attacks, and the unhelpful Republican establishment, 45% of Nevada’s voters decided that Republican Angle’s views were “too conservative.”

Consider the chart below, produced by Jay Cost.  While most of the people who didn’t like Reid voted for Angle, and while most of Angle’s detractors voted for Reid, the unequal numbers produced a win for Reid.

By election day, 12% of people who did not like Reid still voted for Reid.  Only 82% of people who disapproved of Reid voted for Angle.


“What is clear from the exit poll data as well as the campaign itself was that Reid perfectly executed the “frontlash” strategy. He attacked Angle with vigor and, thanks in no small part to the Republican’s own missteps, was able to tag her as extreme. A staggering 45 percent of voters thought Angle’s positions were “too conservative,” and Reid captured 75 percent of those voters.

This “frontlash” strategy has deep roots in the American political tradition. The Lyndon Johnson campaign actually coined the term in 1964; fearful of an electoral backlash to the Civil Rights Act, Johnson set about creating a frontlash by tagging Goldwater as a dangerous extremist.”

He adds:

It should be clear by now that Barack Obama plans to run a version of the frontlash strategy, and unlike LBJ it is an absolute necessity for him. He can’t run on his record, and amping up the Democratic base with partisan red meat is not enough to win election in a country where independents hold the balance of power.

That’s where frontlash comes into play.”

I was originally supportive of Tim Pawlenty, and it’s abundantly clear now that it was a mistake for Pawlenty to drop out, as Perry mis-handled a clear path to the nomination.  No, Pawlenty wasn’t particularly exciting, but we’re not electing a yell-leader, rather a competent leader of the free world.

Post-Pawlenty, we are effectively left with a choice between three likely nominees: Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney.

I’ll be honest:  I’m concerned whether Herman Cain or Rick Perry can beat Obama.  And I know I’m not alone.

Mitt Romney, today, has an advantage that I didn’t see coming:  a good number of usually-uncompromising conservatives are considering supporting Romney not because they want Romney as the nominee, but because they’re willing to risk that Romney is good enough, and they’re concerned that Cain and Perry cannot make the final sale against Obama in November 2012, and because they desperately want to beat Obama.

Many of Romney’s supporters “want to want” Rick Perry or Hermain Cain or somebody else to win.  But for Cain or Perry to win the nomination, they must win two very tough battles.  They must simultaneously run a better primary race than the competent Romney, while also convincing conservative Republicans — voters who have already seen their campaigning abilities over the last couple of months, and are left concerned — that they will run a near-perfect race against Obama, should Cain or Perry be the nominee.


Connect with Benjamin Hodge at FacebookTwitterLinkedInThe Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas.  He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011.  His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters,the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRAKansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).


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