Tony Blankley

No one can know for sure why any of the approximately 124 million voters voted the way they did. Obviously, there were some conservatives who voted for a liberal. Maybe they were punishing the Republicans. Maybe they just admired Obama as a man. Maybe they liked his tax cut promises (though not his position on abortion). Likewise, there were some liberal Hillary supporters who voted for McCain just because they didn't like the way Obama treated their heroine.

But if the Obama team is susceptible to over-interpreting their mandate (as most winners do), the Republicans run the risk of underestimating what forces have been unleashed by this election -- taking undue comfort in the fact that the ideological center of gravity of the electorate does not appear to have moved leftward in this election.

Consider that in 1980, when Ronald Reagan won his first presidential election, the public was self-identified as 46 percent moderate, 28 percent conservative and 17 percent liberal. But by the 1984 Reagan re-election, the public had shifted to 42 percent moderate, 33 percent conservative and 16 percent liberal -- a statistically significant shift to the right. In those four years, Reagan had persuaded 5 percent of the electorate to move largely from moderate to conservative. And that 5 percent has stayed conservative for 24 years, right through the 2008 election. It is that 5 percent that has made America a center-right country rather than a centrist country -- allowing a fairly conservative Republican Party to win congressional and presidential elections most of the time.

That is why it is so vital for both the Republican Party and a newly aroused conservative movement to work feverishly to make the case to the broadest possible public for our right-of-center views during the next four years. Obama has not made his case yet. Just as Reagan won in 1980 in part because a lot of moderates were tired of Carter -- double-digit interest rates, stagflation, Soviets in Afghanistan, Iranian hostage crisis -- so a lot of moderates voted for Obama because of the housing market crash, financial crisis, drop in 401(k) account values, and two wars.

Obama will try to convert those temporary moderate and conservative votes of his into permanent liberal and moderate voters -- just as Reagan did in reverse between 1980 and 1984. If we conservatives can make our case, the election of 2008 will be a blip, just a kick-the-bums-out election. If Obama makes his case, he may have moved the center of political gravity to the left for a generation. Every conservative man and woman, to battle stations.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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