NY-23: The Poll That Matters Most

If you are a Republican strategist, Party leader or candidate for election in 2010, looking at the multitude of current polls is probably giving you lots of reasons to feel good. Republicans are generally leading or at least heavily competitive in generic Congressional ballots. That hasn’t happened in several years. For the first time in a long time, polls show that Republicans are trusted by equal or greater numbers of Americans to handle key issues like Education and Health Care that have been Democrat strongholds.

At the same time, support for the Democrat-led House and Senate has fallen to all-time lows. Support for massive government programs like Obamacare and ongoing, nationalizing bailouts is below 50% and dropping farther every day. In addition, poll numbers indicate, at this point, that the GOP will capture current Democrat-held governorships in Virginia, and in New Jersey. Things, for the GOP, appear to be looking quite good.

Appearances, however, can be deceiving. If you are an elected Republican official, party leader or strategist, and you aren’t seriously worried right now about your prospects for 2010, 2012, and beyond…you should be. Let me tell you why.

The reason is quite simple, and contained in a recent Rasmussen poll of Republicans who plan to vote in 2012 state primaries:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 73% think Republicans in Congress have lost touch with GOP voters from throughout the nation.

Look carefully at that statistic. This is a survey of hard-core Republicans who are already planning to vote in the 2012 primaries–solid, dependable Republican voters. And the survey says that nearly three out of every four of those voters you depend upon believe that their Republican Congressional representatives are out of touch with them. They do not like what you are doing and how you are doing it.

And that means that they are no longer dependable voters who can be counted on to pull the lever for anyone who has an R next to their name and is the endorsed Republican party candidate.

Case in point: the New York 23rd Congressional district and your endorsed “Republican” candidate Dede Scozzafava. In what should have been an easy race for the GOP, she is currently running in third place behind the Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman and the endorsed Democrat candidate.

And Doug Hoffman seems likely to beat both the endorsed Republican and the endorsed Democrat. The latest polls show that he has a slim, 4 point lead in the race, with 22% remaining undecided.

The fact that, nationally, three out of four Republican voters are not happy with current Republican incumbents and leadership means that they are open to vote for somebody else who is not out of touch with them. Somebody like Doug Hoffman.

No matter how you try to spin the New York Republican Party selection of Ms. Scozzafava as their candidate, the fact is that she is the most liberal candidate running in that race. She is more liberal than her Democrat challenger. She is so liberal that liberal blogs are endorsing her. And she is running in last place in a district that has sent a Republican to Congress in every election since the Civil War.

There is a much-needed lesson there, if you, the leaders and elected officeholders of the Republican Party will learn it. As Rush Limbaugh often says, “Conservatism works every time it is tried.” And of course, he is right.

A current Gallup poll shows that when Americans are asked to identify themselves as either conservative, moderate, or liberal, the majority, 40%, identify themselves as conservative. 36% identify themselves as moderate, and only 20% choose to call themselves liberal.

At the same time, Gallup polling also shows that only 27% of Americans currently identify themselves as Republicans. When you add in the 15% of self-identified moderates who say they tend to vote Republican, you have a block of 42% Republican voters. That is remarkably close to the number of people who identify themselves as conservatives.

So how do you siphon off 9% more voters from the moderate block to get to 51% and be assured of winning elections? Certainly not by running candidates who are liberal. Those statistics cited above show that conservatives outnumber liberals in this country by a two-to-one margin. The New Jersey governor’s race is illustrative of what voters are looking for.

New Jersey is a Blue state. The Republican candidate, Chris Christie, is about as conservative as a candidate can be and still be viable in New Jersey. In a head-to-head match-up, polls show that Christie would beat incumbent Democrat governor Jon Corzine. But there is a third candidate in this race.

Chris Daggett, the New Jersey third party candidate, is an environmentalist and former EPA administrator who has worked for and in Republican administrations. He can be termed a social liberal, since he is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. He is running as a fiscal conservative, and he is taking votes away from both Christie and Corzine. Latest polls indicate he is now hurting Corzine more and that Republican Christie is in the lead.

Looking at the best current polling numbers, Christie and Daggett have the combined support of from 53% to 55% of the New Jersey electorate. Both are presenting themselves as fiscal conservatives, and a majority of voters in a liberal state are supporting them. Conservatism is a winning strategy even in a liberal state like New Jersey.

If, as now seems likely, the incumbent Democrat governors of Virginia and New Jersey are defeated by Republican challengers next week, don’t allow yourself to bask too long in the afterglow of victory. I hope that you–the Republican leadership and GOP incumbents up for election next year–instead concentrate and learn from what is going to happen in that single Congressional district in New York state. Remember that poll from Rasmussen Reports about how three out of four of us out here don’t like they way things have been going in the Republican party. We don’t like RINO candidates who are not genuinely conservative. And we like left-of-RINO candidates like Dede Scozzafava even less.

Your political future–your careers–depend upon you getting the message, and changing the way you do business. Because business as usual isn’t going to work any more.

If you think I’m kidding, just consider that a lot of us are looking at Doug Hoffman, watching a true American political success story unfold before our eyes, and thinking that maybe–just maybe–we could do the same thing in our own Congressional districts.

All over the country.


Four hundred and thirty-five Doug Hoffmans.

Think about that for a moment. If I were you, I’d be very worried it might happen. And I’d work quickly, and very hard, to make sure that an awful lot of those three-out-of-four dissatisfied Republicans don’t think we need to do it.