Liberals v. Conservatives in GOP Primaries

Though I was told I could take credit for this, I really can’t. A friend put it together and I’m going to recirculate it.

When you start vetting Republican candidates, you will inevitably hear some sweet nothing coming from the mouth of one of the candidates attempting to woo you over to side. That candidate might even sound conservative. Want to figure out if the person is or is not a real conservative? Look at the consultants:

Over the last four election cycles, there have been many hotly contested Republican primary contests for the House, Senate, and Governorships. Most of these have been personality-driven contests for open seats, rather than ideological battles for the soul of the party. However, there have been a number of primaries which were contested mainly on ideological grounds – between a liberal or moderate candidate and one or more conservatives.

We looked at eighteen key primary contests from 2002 to 2008 in order to determine whether any Republican consulting firms were very likely to consistently work for the more liberal candidate. The eighteen contests were chosen based on there being a clear ideological division between a liberal or moderate and one or more credible conservative opponents. These races include challenges to incumbents, such as the Pat Toomey vs. Arlen Specter in the 2004 Pennsylvania Senate primary and open seats such as Doug Ose vs. Tom McClintock for CA CD 4 in 2008.

In examining these races, we found a clear pattern of certain political consulting firms tending to nearly always side with the liberal or moderate candidate rather than with the conservative.

In eight different primaries, pollster Public Opinion Strategies worked for the most liberal Republican candidate. These included incumbents being challenged, such as Arlen Specter, Lincoln Chafee, and Wayne Gilchrest, and candidates for open seats such as Jim Petro, Bill Weld, and Doug Ose.

Media consultants Stevens, Reed, Curcio, and Potholm, Internet consultant Campaign Solutions, and pollster Moore Information worked for liberal candidates in three of the races a piece. Media consultant Chris Mottola, and pollsters The Tarrance Group and American Viewpoint worked for two.

Public Opinion Strategies (pollster): Arlen Specter (PA Sen 2004), Bill Weld (NY Gov 2006), Jim Petro (OH Gov 2006), Bob Corker (TN Sen 2006), Lincoln Chafee (RI Sen 2006), Heather Wilson (NM Sen 2008), Doug Ose (CA CD 4 2008), Wayne Gilchrest (MD CD 1 2008).

Stevens, Reed, Curcio, and Potholm (media consultant): Judy Baar Topinka (IL Gov 2006), Bob Corker (TN Sen 2006), Lynn Jenkins (KS CD 2 2008)

Campaign Solutions (Internet consultant): Johnny Isakson (GA Sen 2004), Arlen Specter (PA Sen 2004), Bill Weld (NY Gov 2006).

Moore Information (pollster): Lisa Murkowski (AK Sen 2004), Chris Cannon (UT CD 3 2008), Don Young (AK – AL 2008).

Chris Mottola (media consultant) : Arlen Specter (PA Sen 2004), Lincoln Chafee (RI Sen 2006).

The Tarrance Group (pollster): Dean Heller (NV CD 2 2006), Lynn Jenkins (KS CD 2 2006).

American Viewpoint (pollster): Judy Baar Topinka (IL Gov 2006), Johnny Isakson (GA Sen 2004).

One or two of these companies are on this list mainly by coincidence: Campaign Solutions has dozens of Republican campaigns as clients. Others, however, seem to consistently work to promote moderate and liberal Republican candidates. For example, Chris Mottola’s other clients include Gordon Smith and George Pataki, and his firm’s website notes that he was the first consultant to promote a candidate with pro-gay rights advertising.

The GOP primary elections examined for this study were: TN Senate 2002, GA Senate 2004, MI CD 7 2004/2006, OK Senate 2004, AK Senate 2004, PA Senate 2004, NY Gov 2006, IL Gov 2006, OH Gov 2006, TN Senate 2006, RI Senate 2006, NV CD 2 2006, KS CD 2 2008, UT CD 3 2008, NM Senate 2008, AK – AL 2008, CA CD 4 2008, MD CD 1 2008.