I’m a conservative and proud of it. But I’m also a realist who understands there’s a difference between how I want the world to be and how the world is. Disliking the current state of affairs is not enough. Change requires winning elections. That’s the reality Republicans and conservative groups need to grasp if they want to take advantage of the advantageous electoral position in which they currently find themselves.
That advantage is narrow, but it’s growing, and it exists on every issue voters care about. And it marks a significant turnaround since mid-October when Republicans trailed in all these polls.
But this new support is not earned – an important point that escapes a lot of people. It was nothing the Republicans did or said or advanced that made the difference.
What changed? Obamacare, of course.
It was the lies – indeed the lie of the year, according to PolitiFact, was “If you like your insurance, you can keep it.” It was the massive failures in implementation and the realization, as Obamacare changed from the abstract to the concrete for millions of Americans, that this was not a good deal at all.
In other words, voters haven’t move toward Republicans; they’ve moved away from Democrats. Yet many Republicans and conservative groups would like to have their supporters believe they’ve won some sort of argument. In fact, they haven’t won anything yet.
It is true that, in issue-by-issue surveys, a plurality, if not a majority, of Americans (depending on the issue), leans to the right. This is a conservative nation – by instinct and individual, but not necessarily at the ballot box.
The nation elected and re-elected Barack Obama as president, it elected and re-elected Democrats to the Senate from red states. So how can a conservative, or at least right-leaning, nation believe one way and elect people who believe and govern the exact opposite way? Because Republicans and conservatives are more effective at squandering trust, blowing opportunities and forming circular firing squads than they are at reaching even people whose instinct is to agree with them.
People don’t associate Democrats with the unpopular laws, taxes, regulations, intrusions and restrictions they advocate, or else they’d throw them out. They also don’t associate Republicans with the converse of those things, even though they support those ideals. In short: Republicans have a messaging problem.