Diana West

Dear Prospective Conservative Republican Candidates:

Today's column offers strategic tips that can't possibly be worse than the ones "political consultants" charge you big bucks for. Even better, these are free.

Everything a conservative needs to win state and national elections lies in the exit poll numbers. I first noticed these strategic gems following Mitt Romney's 2012 defeat. The media echo chamber was still in high gear, revving up the public to believe that "white men" were Romney's "only" constituency -- and you know how awful "white men" are, and did you ever notice how Mitt Romney is both white and a man ... well, no wonder he lost.

Then I realized the exit polls didn't tell the same story the media were telling. (Shocking, I know.) According to these numbers, it wasn't really "white men" and Romney against the world. Romney had other constituencies -- underexploited constituencies. This week in Virginia, the same is true according to exit poll data, even as the media spin another story.

Once again, we are hearing about the so-called GOP gender gap, the so-called GOP war on women. Yes, it's true, as usual, that a majority of men voted for the losing Republican candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, a white man, while a majority of women voted for the winning Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, another white man.

However, just as a majority of white women voted Republican in 2012, a majority of white women voted Republican in Virginia this week. In 2012, white women voted for Romney over Obama, 56 percent to 42 percent. In Virginia, white women voted for Cuccinelli over McAuliffe, 54 percent to 38 percent. This voting pattern turns the media's favorite anti-conservative smack-paddle, the "gender gap," into a racial gap. Black women, for example, voted for Barack Obama in 2012, 96 percent to 3 percent. In Virginia this week, black women voted for Terry McAuliffe, 91 percent to 7 percent.

What does this tell us? For one thing, that conservative candidates shouldn't pay consultants to coach them to sound more like Democrats on so-called "women's issues" because (1) it is unprincipled, (2) it never works, and (3) it never works because we are looking at an array of issues besides "gender." There's a fourth reason: The last thing conservatives should base political strategy on is Democratic and media spin.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).