Now “Anybody But Romney” Has a Name

Now that Mitt Romney has won a landslide victory in Iowa – by 8 votes –“real conservatives” are gearing up for war.  Not against Barack Obama.  Against  Mitt Romney.

“Real conservatives” never liked Mitt and never will.  They say he’s not a principled conservative.  They’re right.  They see him as a “Massachusetts moderate” which is even worse than a regular moderate, a species of politician they hold in contempt.  They see moderate pols – and the voters who support them – as soft, the opposite of how they see themselves, which is take-no-prisoners tough.

But now that Iowa is in the history books, it’s not just “anybody but Romney” anymore for the “real conservatives.”  Now “anybody” is a real person, with a face, a voice and a name – Rick Santorum.

The “anybody but Romney” crowd would have been perfectly happy with any of the “real conservatives” in the race.  They could have supported Michelle Bachmann if she was the one who emerged from the pack.  But now she’s gone. They loved Herman Cain, but he went south and is now just a memory.  They could gladly get behind Rick Perry, who will campaign in South Carolina before he drops out, too, if he doesn’t do well there. For a while they even liked Newt Gingrich.  Not because they really liked him, but because he wasn’t Mitt Romney.  They salivated over Sarah Palin and went into mourning when she said, Thanks but no thanks.

But now they’re all gone, or soon will be, leaving Rick Santorum as the great “real conservative” hope.  They may give a whole bunch of reasons for liking Santorum, but make no mistake – he’s their guy first and foremost because he’s not Mitt Romney.

But here’s where my “real conservative” friends lose me.  They seem to think Santorum can actually beat Barack Obama, even though he couldn’t even hang on to his Senate seat in Pennsylvania last time around, losing  by 700,000 votes and winning just 41 percent of the vote against his Democratic opponent’s nearly 59 percent.

Most of all “real conservatives” don’t seem to understand that the election will pretty much be decided in nine swing states – Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  Santorum  would do great in places like Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Mississippi and a bunch of other deep red conservative states.  But the battleground states aren’t red as much as they’re purple – a mixture of blue and red.   They’re moderate states filled with moderate voters.  Will Republicans have the best shot at winning those crucial states if their candidate is the “real conservative,” the most conservative candidate left standing?

I get the impression that “real conservatives” don’t really understand moderates and independents.  All they know for sure is that they don’t like them, that they don’t respect them, and that they think they’re no better than liberals.  At least liberals believe in something, the “real conservatives” think.  What the hell do these moderates and independents, who jump from one party to the other ever four years, believe in?  And you know what “real conservatives” dislike most of all?  Having to pander to the moderates and independents.  Sometimes I think “real conservatives” would rather lose – standing by their precious principles, of course – than expend too much energy appealing to wishy-washy voters they don’t trust.

This is not an endorsement of Mitt Romney, veiled or otherwise. Despite the perfect hair, he’s far from the perfect candidate.  And who knows, he might lose, too, if he comes off as “the white Obama,” as one caller to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show described him.  As I have said in this space before:  I want the most conservative candidate who can win to get the nomination.   And, even with his near victory in Iowa, even with his sudden popularity, I’m having a hard time believing that Rick Santorum is that candidate.

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  • Hari

    TheIthomasscully on September 11, 2011 I kinda wanna bakchand you square across the face. You just give off that kinda vibe

  • Sunnyr

    I can’t believe “real” conservatives are going to support a flip-flopping Massachusetts Liberal one term Governor, or a couple of Washington Insiders who have not an ounce of actual hands-on experience at governing a state, much less a nation, and who filled their own pockets while serving the people.

    I have held my nose and voted for RINO’s in the last two elections and I swore I would never do it again. Rick Perry is a 3 term Governor of our 2nd largest state, with the worlds 13th largest economy, with a 1200 mile border with Mexico and Rick Perry has presided over it all with total competence. He has an A+ grade with NumbersUSA for controlling the Mexican border. He has balanced budgets every year since they passed a Balanced Budget Amendment, and has signed Tort Reform into law and help create over a million new jobs for Texas.

    This man is a Veteran (Pilot) in the U S Air Force and could be a REAL Commander in Chief of our nation, instead of a clueless slacker who doesn’t even know how to pronounce the word, “corpsman.” He is a Conservative all the way and always has been even when he was a Democrat years ago. Unlike Comrade Obozo, Rick Perry cherishes this nation and everything it stands for. He has a great plan for restoring our nation and building up our natural resources so we are not a slave to others for our energy needs.

    Rick Perry is the real deal and perfectly capable of beating Obama just by comparing their two records of accomplishment. It’s a no brainer. For some reason, the Washington “elite” and the media want to pretend he doesn’t exist. I’ll sit it out before I vote for another RINO or two corrupt Congressmen or a nutty old man. No way!

    This sucks and I have had it!

  • rider237

    Perry would have been the better choice for conservatives and moderates. unfortunately, he’s not going to get the nomination.

    right now, i’m not seeing a very bright future unless we can give whoever is running a conservative congress.

    • Sanitsar

      he could have been ienfulnced by Conservatives once he won was right. At least we would have had a better chance influencing McCain than we do Obama now. And the one thing that I did like about McCain was he did want to reform the way some things were done in DC.. He NEVER took any earmarks.. He would have been a better foreign policy President and he was an honest man and a war hero..

  • Dorothy K Carter

    Romney not principled? Really? Reagan changed his mind does that mean we conservatives hate Reagan? We all love Heritage Foundation the conservative think tank but did you know they designed Romneycare? Watch video on right side column where it was praised by Pres of Heritage: Please educate yourself vs parroting incorrect pompus talking points: Please all voters who hate Romney need to read this letter to RedState: Setting Record Straight Why Romney:
    Romney WILL BE the Next Reagan. We have got to stop sending congressmen and senators to the oval. They are not executives they are legislators and make decisions with 99 or 434 others.

    • Paul Courtney

      Dorothy: You’re so ready to attack Romney attackers, you missed the fact that this article agrees with you. “They say he’s not a principled…” doesn’t mean Bernie is saying it. He’s actually spent the last few months criticizing us “real conservatives” for jumping to the non-Romney flavor of the week (only to gag on that same flavor the following week), and many don’t want to hear it. He hasn’t expressly supported Romney (he’s a journalist, you see), but he’s reminded us to support the most conservative candidate WHO CAN WIN. On that, we agree.

  • larry

    I’m afraid the best we are gonna be able to do is Romney……..

    • Dorothy K Carter

      Educate yourself what’s wrong with Romney?

    • Amrita

      One of the thgins that doomed Romney was the perception of his being smug and arrogant. I heard this repeated by fellow republicans who dont like the choices and have found both he and McCain personality wise to be irritating at best.

  • Doc Hubbard

    Romney a 1 term governor of massachusetts is going to cost the republicans the white house he has no chance to beat Obama. he will get an ass whooping like he deserves to he knows this the RNC knows this. they think he can get people to the polls to take back the senate as Jim DeMint says it is the senate stupid. Obama’s billion dollar war chest and the stupidity of the american people lstening to the lame stream media have bought it hook line and sinker. shame on anyone who votes for Romney shame on you, you condemn America to four more years of Obama.

  • Jeff

    Mitt Romney couldn’t hold Reagan’s underwear.

  • Ron Kean

    Romney has momentum.

  • Paul Courtney

    Bernie, I wanted to stand up and cheer when you criticized tv news non-stop coverage of this foolishness, including Fox. Papers and npr are covering other stories, though it’s like a round-up of the usual suspects. I’m addicted to politics, but it’s too much.
    I’m also a real conservative who wanted a non-Romney, but none have passed muster. Santorum was a rising elected conservative in the 90’s and I love that he has never backed off, but he has an abrasiveness that came across in ’06. His loss was not merely an anti-war tide, the margin was too wide. He seems to lack the charisma it takes to deflect attacks from the left and the press, so I reluctantly agree he’s not the one. It will be Mitt, and that’ll have to do. Very bad news for Obama- saw today that our proud liberal, Sherrod Brown, didn’t join his Pres. in Cleveland, even though Pres. used the appearance to appoint fellow OH Dem Cordray. If Sherrod Brown is running from Obama, he’s in trouble.

  • Steve

    I can tell you one of the chief attributes of some of the millions of moderate/independent voters. We find the emphasis on ‘social conservatism’ alarming.

    Someone like Santorum with his strong anti-gay stance would bring tolerant voters out in droves to back Obama. We’d rather revote for Mr Disappointment than risk having someone so discriminatory in the White House.

    As for the disinterested democrats, Santorum would be the best possible ‘get out the vote’ tool for them too.

    • BARBF


      • Tiger

        Manufactured oturage.When you have a live talk show every day for 3 hours a day, plus a TV show, someone is bound to be able to pull out a soundbite once in awhile that makes you look bad. Having listened to Beck for years, I’m pretty sure he isn’t gleefully celebrating the fact that Malibu is burning. And after his long, rambling speech about everyone coming together in the center, it surely sounds to me like he thinks it’s unfortunate that Malibu Leftists are in tragic circumstances right now.

  • RecknHavic

    Ive often wondered if you were a conservative, a cocktail party repub, a moderate or something in between. But after reading your condescending slam against “real conservatives” it finally dawned on me…you’re simply a jerk.

    • Steve Angers

      I re-read the column, Havic. Carefully. Where’s the “condescending slam” against real conservatives? I don’t see it. If you’re a conservative who is feeling overly sensitive you might be able to discern some condescension in the tone of Bernie’s comments, although I think even that is quite a stretch. But there’s definitely no “slam”. I think Bernie does a very good job of fairly capturing a moderate’s perception of some conservative attitudes about moderates. If you don’t agree with that perception, perhaps you could tell us what’s wrong with it or how you would choose to characterize those observations.

      • RecknHavic

        Where to begin..

        First of all, why the quotation marks around “real conservative? Do you think perhaps Bernie is implying that those who won’t vote for a liberal Republican somehow see themselves above others who know the ones we think are “soft”.
        Bernie then goes on to assert we’re stupid by saying we don’t understand electoral politics w/ ““real conservatives” don’t seem to understand that the election will pretty much be decided in nine swing states – Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” Yeah, thats too complicated to get my mind around when Im, ya know, cleaning my gun or looking up God hates gays in my Bible.
        He then follows w/ we just dont like non-“real conservatives” because their ‘differnt. Im surprised he didnt add that we also don like ’em cause they don’t look like us.
        And finally we “real conservatives” would rather just stand on our “precious principles” than to make the effort to “understand” those godly independents and moderates, because that would take mental effort, something we have in short supply.

        So suck it up “real conservatives” and support the guy who as governor of Mass increased spending 35% and his states debt 53% in 4 yrs. The guy who says that coal fired power plants kill people. The guy who passed the largest state mandated healthcare laws ever. The guy who recently suggested we should consider the VAT. The guy who several years ago called himself a progressive.

        Or just be the ignorant, ill-unformed, precious principled anybody but Mitt people we all know you are.

        • Steve Angers

          I still think you’re reading too much into Bernie’s remarks, Havic. I understand that there is a level of criticism, maybe even some mild condescension, in his comments, but they really aren’t too harsh.

          The quotation marks around “real conservatives” are there, I believe, because we seem to hear them every time real conservatives talk about themselves as opposed to someone who isn’t conservative enough to suit them. Maybe you don’t hear them when you say it, in the same sense that I, as a moderate, didn’t hear anything unusual in Bernie’s tone the first time I read the column. His words just seemed pretty reasonable to me because they generally fit my world view. But to someone who isn’t hard conservative, when a person who views themselves as a real conservative uses the phrase we hear the emphasis (i.e., quotation marks) and a general tone suggesting that maybe those of us who aren’t real conservatives just don’t measure up to snuff. It’s not something to take personally, but it is a perception. I doubt Bernie intended anything other than to capture the flavor of that perception.

          The observation that real conservatives don’t seem (and he uses the word “seem” advisedly, I believe) to understand that the election will be decided by a small number of swing states doesn’t imply that they are too stupid to understand electoral politics. It just fits the facts. Real conservatives don’t appear to perceive the obstacle. We haven’t heard any arguments for ways a conservative candidate can win those states, or why they won’t be important in this election. From the moderate perspective, you guys seem to be thinking with your heart and not your head on this one. It doesn’t mean anyone is stupid. It just means that it appears there’s a level of emotional commitment that’s making it hard to analyze the politics accurately. But maybe we moderates are wrong. Maybe this election won’t be decided by the swing states. Or maybe there’s a path that will allow a solidly conservative candidate to win enough of those states. I’d listen to anyone who wants to argue the point. I may argue back, but I can be convinced by a good argument. I’m just waiting to hear one.

          The bit about real conservative not liking moderates I think is fair, although it might have been worded a bit differently. Despite some pretty harsh remarks I’ve seen from your conservative brethren about RINOs (a term I don’t particularly like or agree with), I think it might be more reasonable to say real conservatives aren’t comfortable with moderates. And I think that’s generally a fair statement. As I remarked- at length 😉 – in another post to this thread, there are reasons human beings are more comfortable with people who look and behave like them. The same is true for us moderates. We don’t hate real conservatives, or even dislike them. But we often don’t understand them, and that can make us uncomfortable at times. I’ve even found Bernie’s suggestion that real conservatives might be more comfortable with, or at least better understand, liberals than moderates to be accurate. I have friends who are quite conservative and some pretty liberal friends. Maybe I’m a little oversensitive, but my perception is that they are more comfortable around each other when discussing politics than either group is when discussing politics with me. I don’t think they “get” where I’m coming from, while they understand, but don’t agree with, each other. It’s not an indictment of any of us. It’s just identifying, I believe, one of those harsh realities that occasionally make it difficult for conservatives and moderates to work well together.

          For your last point, Bernie doesn’t say that conservatives aren’t up to the mental effort of trying to work with moderates, he suggests that they sometimes don’t want to be bothered to expend the energy to do so. From my perspective, that seems fair. To be perfectly honest, there are times when I really don’t feel like I have the energy to spend trying to find common ground with conservatives. It’s a product of our differences occasionally rising to the level of frustration. It happens. I don’t think it means that I or real conservatives are stupid. And I doubt that Bernie even considered making that suggestion.

          So, I’m open to being persuaded that there is another Republican candidate who can defeat President Obama. I’m not a huge Romney fan anyway, and even as a moderate I think that twenty years of big government could benefit from a term or two of fiscal conservative antidote. But any candidate has to pass two tests. First, I need to be convinced that they have a reasonable chance to win in November, because defeating the incumbent is critically important to the well-being of our country. Second, I want to have a reasonable belief that their brand of fiscal conservatism has a chance of being implemented and that doing so won’t do long-term harm to the country or the future political chances of other fiscal conservatives. If you know of such a candidate, please let me know. I’ll need convincing, but a solid argument could do that. As for Bernie’s remarks, I really think you’re reading far too much into them.

          • RecknHavic

            Im sure Im overly sensitive to the criticism I hear defining my conservative beliefs, as it seems like there’s always an attack coming from some direction. Am I overly sensitive at times, probably. But Bernie’s hit us “real conservatives” w/ his “mild condescension” before and after awhile the hits add up.

            I don’t consider Mitt Romney to be a moderate, he is a liberal; certainly his record proves that. I judge people based on their actions (i listed several of Romney’s in my last comment), not their words. Romney talks the talk but has yet to walk the “precious principle” walk. Many (Ive read enough of your comments to not include you in this group) call themselves moderates and are in fact closer to bein social and fiscal liberals.

            It might surprise you to know that my real hope for a Presidential candidate this go-round was Mitch Daniels (not the most overall “real” conservative out there). We should be willing to put aside some issues of importance to ourselves for the greater good of our nations fiscal strength right now. Theres no evidence that Mitt Romney will pursue fiscally conservative, sound principles. If there is an example from his elected past where he has, please enlighten me.

            The idea that we should simply elect anyone other than the other sides guy or gal is not a convincing, much less intelligent reason for me to support a candidate. if Romeny does succeed in gaining the nomination it is my opinion that not only will he not gain the base support necessary to become President but will in fact jeopardize the gains made by the GOP in the House and those needed in the senate.


          • Steve Angers

            First, I apologize if my form of address annoyed you. I really haven’t known what to call you. Your entire ID seems too much of a mouthful to me. Maybe Mr. Havic? Please let me know if it matters to you.

            I’ll stop trying to speak for Bernie now and let him speak for himself, if he wishes. I just know that I’ve followed his work from CBS to FOX, read several of his books, and he seems like a generally decent fellow who likely didn’t intend to offer any offense with his commentary. But I’m sure that he, like you and I, can get a little frustrated by repeated exchanges with people who don’t seem to understand what we’re trying to say, and sometimes that impatience can leak out in a tone that isn’t completely sensitive to those with whom we disagree.

            I understand completely what you say about Romney not having proved his moderate principles yet. Like you, I believe it’s much more important to judge a person by what they do than by what they say. But, while I don’t know Mitt Romney personally, I get the distinct impression that he’s a pragmatist. And a pragmatist understands that you can’t lead a group of people somewhere they aren’t willing to go. So as Governor of Massachusetts, a state that elected Ed Markey, Gerry Studds and Barney Frank- repeatedly, for heaven’s sake!- Romney wouldn’t have even attempted to implement conservative policy and would have taken some positions that were fully in line with the very liberal attitudes of his constituents. If not, he would have lost any ability to lead and get things done. It’s tough to judge his politics entirely by what he did as Governor of Massachusetts.

            I agree that Romney is philosophically a supporter of big government. But he’s also an experienced business leader. He understands that now we have to cut spending and reduce the size of government, so I don’t think we have to worry about the government growing under his stewardship. We can even hope to see some moderate reduction in size if he thinks he can get Congressional and voter support to do so. Given his somewhat conservative personal values, I don’t anticipate much in the way of social activism during a Romney presidency, although he might support liberal positions if he thinks a firm majority of Americans favor some specific measure. I expect an engaged foreign policy, but nothing too activist, although I believe that he’ll also be governed in this area by the mood of the country. In short, I don’t expect a Romney presidency would strongly advance conservative values in any area, but I also expect a break from the liberal policies and values of the Obama administration.

            And I know what a second-term President Obama would try to do. From my perspective, for a conservative, Romney should be by far the lesser of two evils. I know many would hope to do better. I’m just not sure that the mood of the country and the candidates available to the Republican Party allow for a better choice than Romney. Not the kind of endorsement to get the blood racing, I know. But it’s kind of like discovering you have cancer, and the doctor tells you that there are two treatments available, both equally effective at getting rid of cancer. You can go with some unpleasant radiation and chemotherapy to reduce the virulence of the cancer, or he can start cutting out body parts and keep cutting them out wherever the cancer shows up again. Think of voting for Romney as at least keeping all your body parts. (And think of another Obama term as losing one body part after another until there aren’t any left to lose.)

            I agree, in part, with your last point. Romney may not get enough base support to win, although I think it’s pretty risky if conservatives do less than their very best to make sure President Obama doesn’t serve a second term. I particularly agree that Romney probably won’t have strong coattails. But there are a lot of moving parts to assess in predicting how it all might work out. Delving into that could make this an exceptionally long(er) post. Suffice it to say, with a Romney nomination, in my opinion, there are few paths that lead to an Obama re-election with a fully Democrat Congress. That would take some pretty self-destructive behavior on the part of Republicans. I can see a weak Romney presidency having to work with a divided or Democrat Congress, leading to policies that are somewhat liberal, but not activist liberal. I can even see a Romney Presidency with a Congress that is under nominal Republican control.

            If Anybody But Romney, at least as he or she appears now, is nominated, I can only see an Obama re-election, although possibly with a somewhat strengthened Republican presence in Congress. But how good that might be for us and the country is debatable. A Republican Congress could block unpopular Obama legislation, but he’s already demonstrated a pretty contemptuous willingness to govern by fiat. Why would we assume that a second term would be different? And the conservatives presently in Congress haven’t done a great job in the public relations war over who is to blame for the dysfunctional executive-legislative relationship. Would that change? Or would 2014 see an enraged electorate, somewhat sympathetic to the President, ready to vote all Republicans out of office?

            There are a lot of ways this election could play out, few of them good unless Republican conservatives and moderates can find a way to pull together around a workable plan. That’s why I keep asking conservatives to show me a candidate who can beat Obama. I’m willing to give a little if it helps us all achieve the important goal of winning the Presidency. I don’t have a lot of faith in the “just make sure we keep Republican control over at least one house of Congress” strategy because I fear that might prove an ephemeral, and ultimately pyrrhic, victory; although I’d take that over conceding re-election to Obama and control over both houses of Congress to the Democrats. But I much prefer a more reliable outcome.

            If conservatives refuse to support a Romney candidacy, what do we do? I’m still waiting for someone to show me how one of the other current Republican candidates can defeat President Obama. If not them, who else is available and able to win in November? Chris Christie? Marco Rubio? Mitch Daniels? Sarah Palin? Jeb Bush? We had better figure out who is out there, who could be persuaded to run and could win, and then what it would take to get them into the race. If moderate and conservative Republicans can’t find a winning candidate we can all agree to support in the current field, we had better broaden the field now. It’s only early January. We shouldn’t be ready to concede defeat to President Obama yet.

    • Ron Kean

      That wasn’t necessary. Name calling like that cheapens the thread.

      • RecknHavic

        Actually I was just trying o be funny w/ my “Angers” lead-in. You can call me Reck.

        It’s not something I enjoy, criticizing Bernie, as I too am a fan and have read two of his books. He’s the original gansta of exposing liberal media bias afert all and I purposely catch Oreilly on days he’s on his program.

        Theres absolute truth that Romney could not have won as a conservative in Mass. But I believe w/ him its deeper than how he presented himself to the voting public; he is a liberal.

        Almost to the person the people I talk w/ (who are not Dems) say beating Obama is all they care about. This type of short-sightedness is what gets us candidates like Romney, McCain, Dole, ect. This election is a battle in a greater war. Look, it could be Obama or any number of Dem Presidents; theyre all the same, play the same cards, have the same backers, same agenda. Sure, w/Romney we might win this battle but it could cost us the war.

        I hear your points about the dangers of a 2nd BO term but I think a Repub Congress would block most of the potential damage.

        The real battle is for control of the GOP right now.


        • Steve Angers

          Thanks, Reck.

          I fully agree with you about Bernie’s appearances on O’Reilly. I rarely miss them.

          Personally, I think Obama is a little more dangerous than are most Democrats. I believe his world view is more extreme and less sympathetic to mainstream American interests than that of the majority of his party. He’s also very charismatic and personally likeable. The potential is there, given enough time in office, that he could fundamentally transform the country. Better to get one of our guys to replace him before things really get bad.

          I suspect that you and I won’t agree on your last point, or how we would like to see that battle turn out. Gauging the mood of the country today, I’m concerned about putting too conservative a public face on our party. If the conservatives end up in firm control, they might eventually win the war for the hearts and minds of the American people. But I fear that they would lose so many battles along the way, and it would take so much time, that the prize might have lost much of its value by the time that day arrives. Better to accept small victories and keep our philosophy in play now than spend years in the electoral wilderness while the extremists are pillaging in Washington.

          I’ll leave it at that for now. It seems we’ll have plenty to talk about in the coming months if we continue to run into each other here. It should be interesting.

          • RecknHavic

            Agreed. Take care.

  • Steve Angers

    The disconnect you observe between conservatives and moderates is frustrating, Bernie. It’s an intriguing phenomenon, somewhat destructive to our common goals as Republicans, and it’s likely not ever going to go away.

    The problem, as you suggest, is more one of personality than philosophy. We often see similar problems in the workplace, where different personality types have a hard time understanding and cooperating with each other toward a common goal. A whole industry has sprung up, using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and similar instruments, designed to help different personalities who have to work together learn to do so effectively. I don’t think the dynamic is any different in the political arena. A shared world view combines with very different social attitudes and behaviors to produce dysfunction on a rather grand scale. And you can probably blame it on genetics.

    While most of us embrace the Republican label due to shared perspectives about the role we believe our government should have in our society, we have very different ways of getting to our goals. Political moderates, like me, tend to place a lot of emphasis on consensus; on being inclusive of some differences in opinion in order to increase our strength through working together; we compromise.

    Conservatives tend to hew strongly to their beliefs and are generally not willing to dilute their goals to increase the number of people working to achieve them. They know they’re right. They believe that the rest of the world should eventually come around to their point of view (and this does sometimes happen). They would much rather “fight the good fight” and lose than have to be less than their ideal image of themselves. They see themselves as rugged individuals, self-contained, and requiring little of any other man than that they be left alone (and obeyed when they do need more than one set of hands to get the job done). Compromise is not part of their vocabulary, and people who do compromise, who seek consensus and embrace cooperation, appear strange to them. And that’s where genetics enters the equation.

    As a matter of survival, human beings tend to like familiar things and dislike the unfamiliar. We are hard-wired to be more comfortable with people who look like us and act like us, and uncomfortable with people who don’t. Thinking apparently entered the human situation some years after the genetic imperatives were already in place, so we don’t have the same visceral attraction to people who think like us. But appearance and behavior, both of which offer lots of visual cues, are important when sizing up another person; when deciding whether they are safe or a threat- or, in today’s society, whether they are likeable or unlikeable.

    For a conservative, while a moderate will usually look familiar, their behavior is unconscionably strange. Conservatives often are more comfortable personally, and sometimes even politically, with a liberal (who also, for all their rhetoric to the contrary, is an uncompromising political animal) than a moderate. It isn’t about the ideas, it’s a basic survival mechanism at work. Genetics drives the polemics. And that drives all of us crazy.

    We’re fighting millions of years of evolution in our effort to get conservatives and moderates to work well together. I don’t have any great ideas about how to make that happen. I probably don’t even have any ideas about how to look for solutions to the problem. It’s a frustrating challenge trying to figure out how to help people with similar political goals, who should be eager to achieve those goals, to work together for their common good. I’m not sure we’ll ever sort it out, but we can continue to hope. And we must continue to try. The goals matter too much to all of us. Therapy, anyone?

    • Sree

      Back seat or back of the bus?((**crocodile ‘conservative’ tears**))As Steve wrote on DP, you’d be wemcole in the fold here Smitty. Then you can write yourself into all the headlines your heart desires!…I mean, don’t make me start the “Day XX of RSmitty’s Betrayal” series…

  • Lilly

    Mr. Goldberg: I do believe you are part of the establishment in the tank for Romney, no matter what you say. You obviously have not studied Rick Santorum. If you had, you would recognize that he is a clear contrast to B. Obama. He is consistent, doesn’t have any significant baggage, compared to others including Romney. He has integrity and he is a great debater.
    The whole reasoning for suggesting Santorum is unelectable is a media driven hype. Do you realize that Romney was beaten by Kennedy for a Senate position by 16 points. So what is the difference?
    If you listen and watch Santorum, he is focused and a very strong candidate compared to the others. The media has driven the message that he is only focused on social issues. But he has a very good economic plan which looks at the whole picture rather than just focusing on one part of what makes up the economy He is well versed in international relations…which Romney is not…and the President is first and foremost the Commander in Chief. Santorum’s character qualities are that of a true leader. The first thing I noticed is he is decisive, has a clear vision, knows who he is and where he stands on issues (which helps to minimize gaffes), he speaks without notes or teleprompters, he is systematic in his reasoning, he is someone the country can trust, he presents as someone with integrity and will bring honor to the WH. I could go on, but I encourage you to study him with an open mind.
    My favorite saying is: “If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you will keep on getting what you’ve been getting.” and Romney is more of the same … and America is like an abused alcoholic family that doesn’t change direction because they are comfortable with the status quo, although it is hurting them…that’s why we have Obama right now, and if we have Romney, things will not change.
    We need smart and consistent…we need Rick Santorum…and I am not easily swayed.

  • Mike Jackson

    First and foremost is to get Obama elected out of office. To say Obama has been a failure is a miscalculation on anyone’s part. He

    Equally, America needs to elect a president who will act and be responsible. Who will that person be? I don’t know. But at this moment, my money is cautiously placed on Romney to win the nomination. I won’t go as far as saying he will win the general election but I suspect he probably would.

    Depending on who he chooses as his running mate will have more impact on getting conservative voters out than anything else he does.

    I don’t see Rick Santorum winning the nomination, nor do I see him staying in the race beyond March. I do see himin a decent position as VP nominee. I don’t think Gov. Christie or Sen. Rubio are really interested in the job at this time. Gov Jindal has already said he’s not interested in the job.

    With Santorum being from PA, that could be a difficult match up for Romney. Romney will want a running mate from a different part of the country to help keep previously red states that have turned purple. At the same time, Santorum may well have been vetted in the primary process and found to be a good fit, and could bring some of the purple shaded states to red. I don’t think as many will shift blue unless Obama dumps Biden and chooses Hillary as his VP.

    This election cycle has been described as the flavor of the week. That has been especially true here in Iowa. With the number of candidates in the GOP side, it has been a long and tedious election season.

    Much like the Democratic primaries were in 2008 the GOP process is going to be an ugly affair. I don’t expect Ron Paul to win nor do I anticipate he’ll wage a third party candidacy. Nor do I expect him to lend support to the nominee either.

    In short, Bernie is right. This election is one of practicality. Expect things to get much tougher after the convention.

  • EddieD_Boston

    One important point is….yes, Bush was pro-life and he did win. But he was running against Al Gore, who’s a blithering idiot.

    Lost in the “Bush stole the election” hysteria on the left, Gore didn’t even win Tennesee. Fact, look it up.

    Then he ran against John Kerry who’s an empty suit’s empty suit.

    • Bob Hadley

      In the final months of the 2000 presidential campaign, Gore was leading in Arkansas, Tennesee and West Virginia. But he took his resources out of those states and focused them in Florida.

      And, yes, I agree that Kerry was an empty suit during the 2004 presidential campaign. His slogan was “Vote for me, I’m not GW Bush.”

  • JP

    Anybody but Romney people will eventually become Anybody but Obama voters. That is except for the hard core Paul cult contingency.

  • robin in fl

    yes those “real conservatives” are going to put Obama right back in office…funny they can’t understand that.If only they could understand that all humans will not think exactly alike..but they can’t seem to get that through their heads anymore then the far left can understand that people who do not agree with EVERYTHING they say are NOT all idiots…. oh well..Que Sera, it goes

  • chuck.tatum

    The elephant in the room with Romney being disliked by conservatives is…he’s a Mormon.

    Trust me conservatives, Mormonism is no more ridiculous and unbelievable as every other religion, except yours, of course.

  • Neil Johnston Rouse II

    people seem to forget that regan was once a democrat, perry was once a domocrat. romney once acted a bit like a democrat? oh well. seems that sometimes those that come in from the dark side end up shining the brightest.

  • Webmaster

    While Democrats simply worry that everyone carries a candle stick with the party’s name on it, Republicans worry about the length, shape, and hue of the candle stick, becoming so fractured when the candidate finally comes forth no one is happy.

    When Barack Obama won, I didn’t hear some Democrats say, “Well I’m not voting for him because he hung around radicals and wants to change the foundation of America into socialism.” They said nothing, with the DNC reminding the ranks if anyone was a conservative there was no place for them at the table.

    Republicans have to stop worrying about who will beat Obama, because when Obama ran in 2008 Republicans thought he was so radical he would never be elected. They were wrong.

    Republicans need to instead back the one who BEST represents the party’s mission statement and then battle forth. If the candidate doesn’t represent conservative values, then what’s the point of the conservative party in the first place? The problem is that Republicans, unlike Democrats, don’t know if they are conservatives or moderate liberals called RINOs.

    In 2008 in response to a far-left radical running for president in the Democrat Party, Republicans put up John McCain as their candidate. McCain’s own wife and daughter followed the ideology of far left Democrats, his wife helping gay marriage in California while his daughter trashed Palin on the View.

    That greatly worried me because I remembered the warning of where the heart is, “That you are where you hang your hat.” Now McCain has endorsed Romney, as if ready to hand it over to the Democrats again in 2012. I watched McCain’s cocky smile while being interviewed by FOX, which I haven’t seen for four years, his sitting there next to Romney with my thinking, “Oh hell, here we go again!”

  • Mary Whelton

    Mr. Goldberg is positively correct. The republican far right will end up putting Obama back in the White House if they dont get it together.
    I like Mitt Romney. Not because I think he is the only one of the candidates who can beat Obama (which is true) but because he is an honest decent man.
    The United States economically is in the dumper! There is only one best shot at getting it back on track. Mitt Romney. Believe it. It is the truth.

    • Jim Laurie

      Mary- Obama is a “decent man.” But, a wiseman, not so much. Likewise, Romney. From his legislative record (achieving a balanaced budget and welfare reform), and his debate performance, Newt appears the wisest of the GOP candidates.

      Remember Romneycare, and forget “decent.”

  • Truth101

    Since you mentioned the senate seat, when every republican was being voted out of office there was one being elected. Sarah Palin was elected the youngest and first female governor of Alaska.

    Romney and the elites should have thought out the consequences before they sent their stooges out to smear Sarah Palin after the election.

    But don’t worry if Romney is the nominee, is Sarah Palin will step to the plate and bring all sides together to make sure that Obama is a one-term POTUS.

    You see unlike the GOP elites, Sarah Palin’s love of country trumps the party.

    • chuck.tatum

      Palin quit in her first term for love of…reality TV.

    • Roadmaster

      Bob Casey is a conservative dhimmicrat who painted Santorum as a radical, right wing homophobe, and hammered that home relentlessly with millions in negative ads. He was backed 100% by his party, the unions (still big in PA), even the guy he beat out in the primary (if I remember right) while Santorum was undermined by the internecine squabbles and back biting which seems to characterize the GOP. The elites and “moderates” of the party don’t like rock ribbed conservatives any more than dhimmicrats do, only tolerating us as long as we “behave” and fall in line behind their annointed one.

      I liked Romney in ’08 because I really don’t like MuhCain (my *#&%**#@ senator). I liked and respected Santorum and Gingrich for the job they did in Congress but neither excites me much as a candidate for President, but I’m lukewarm on Mitt also.

      The GOP knows we won’t vote for Obama, but the trick is to make sure we don’t just stay home in protest and they’re counting on our disgust for the lawless, destructive, wannabe dictator to get us out for a Mormon, the silliest cult, based on the wild imaginings of a convicted liar and con man, perpetrated by ruthless Mormon “mullahs” but that’s personal, between him and God, and none of my business.

      • chuck.tatum

        Your last sentence is spot on. But you fail to see that the convicted liar Joeseph Smith who founded the cult of Mormonism is no more ridiculous and wrong than every other religion. Sorry, including your own.

        See you at the polls. Go Romney.

  • Jeannette

    Here’s my favorite. Always has been and always will be: Abbo (Anybody But Barack Obama).

    My sincerest hope is that there will be no third party because that will guarantee FOUR MORE YEARS of THAT ONE. I can’t stand it. We as a nation are already in shambles. What will four more years of THAT ONE do to the country?

    I will say that I have been routinely hitting the mute button when THAT ONE shows up, and I have begun hitting it when Newt shows up. I’m tired of so much muting and “previous channel”ing.

  • Kelly Johnston

    Mr. Goldberg, I have to disagree with you about Rick Santorum’s general election appeal. If you listened to his 21 minute victory speech, you would know better. And Mark Levin last night, on his radio show, disagrees with that as well. Rick’s economic populism is PERFECT for the Midwest (which the GOP has been losing the past several elections) and even some marginal Northeast states (think Maine and New Hampshire). He will of course do well in the South and most of the western states. Suggest you spend a little more time learning and listening to/about Rick.

    • Steve Angers

      Santorum’s post-election speech was very impressive, Kelly. If that was the only thing I knew about him, I would be pretty excited about his candidacy. And if I was convinced that he could capture that message and bring it to the American electorate, I would feel pretty good about his chances in the general election. But he does bring a fair amount of baggage that could help shift the debate away from what I thought was a great message. I don’t know yet if he could overcome his negatives against a capable and determined opponent (and his minions in the mainstream media). On the other hand, Santorum showed very well in Iowa, had an exceptionally strong moment at the end of the evening, and is now worthy of some serious scrutiny as a potential standard bearer for the Republican Party.

      • Salvador

        ltitomika on August 30, 2011 I like that I am a grateful person. I love being able to show my appreciation to others and count all of my blessings. I dont like taking things for granted, because life is so special and the people you love should feel they are loved.

  • Charlie

    By reminding us of the great conservative, William F. Buckley’s, rule, you are in very heady company, Bernie. “Vote for the most conservative candidate who can WIN.” Sometimes tough to swallow, particularly when the pendulum has swung so far to the left, but still the most pragmatic, conservative advice.

  • Drew Page

    As I stated in an earlier post, noe of the republican candidates are going to appeal to all Republicans or Independents. But any of those remaining in the Republican primary would be better than Obama. My fear is that some Republicans will stay away from the polls if their favorite candidate doesn’t get the nomination or that Ron Paul will attempt to mount a third party campaign. Either of these events would assure an Obama re-election and the demise of this country.

  • The Obama Timeline author

    I want no one gaining enough votes to win the GOP nomination on the first round of balloting. In the second round, delegates will then be free to vote for whoever they choose – even those who were never announced candidates and did not run in the primaries. Hopefully the winner will be an articulate, string conservative who can defeat Obama and who has little baggage.

    Now all we have to do is find him or her…

    • Sigrid

      # 157 John,It seems like it might play beettr to say that he is self-made, which I think he is. But then he might not get a house in some Connecticut communities

  • Eric

    Rick Santorum on Small Government:

    True ‘conservative’ indeed.

    Sounds more like a fascist in the making.

  • Fred Pasek

    In 2008, the Republican voters were told by Fox, their guests, and the Republican establishment that McCain was the only one who could win in a year when things were so bleek, because he was the most liberal candidate going. Republican voters cast aside Giuliani and Romney to nominate McCain. This year, Fox, their guests and the Republican establishment are telling the voters that Romney is the only one who can win a general election. They point to the polls which show Romney up on Obama, but they don’t mention the hatchet job they did on the other candidates to ensure that the other candidates wouldn’t stand a chance. People watched the debates and saw with their own eyes that Newt was the guy they liked. He went up in the polls, and then the establishment hammered away at him, while they propped up Romney. And we all know the subtle ways this is done. Hosts speak repeatedly about the other candidates’ problem issues, while mostly staying quiet about the one they want, Romney in this case.

    Gone is the pretense that it’s all about the economy. I like Santorum’s focus on manufacturing, far more than Romney’s 59 step plan. But it’s not about that for Bernie. And it’s not about that for anyone at Fox or in the Republican establishment. Don’t be surprised if there is some real bitterness that divides the Republican electorate after this primary process, and ultimately, the venom will of those who feel their candidates got the shaft like the Ron Paul supporters and the Gingrich supporters and the Evangelicals, will be directed at those like Fox who brought the candidate down. This will cost Fox ratings points, and will make those in the Tea Party feel even more disenfranchised than they’ve already felt with the big spenders like Bush, McCain, and now Romney that the Republican party has pushed through. I don’t think the Republican establishment and those who hold water for it realize just how sick of this many of us are. Nominate Romney at your own risk.

  • Joe

    Not sure either if Santorum is the answer. I think Gingrich will do well in South Carolina and that might emerge him as the Anti-Romney. At that point, folks like Santorum and Perry might soon drop out and Gingrich will capture much more, if not all if the conservative vote and that will definitely destroy Romney.

    • Loorenna

      Dan I was rnierrfeg to his inital post which is fairly positive for DKL surprisingly so. His comments and yours back and forth have not exactly been positive

  • Jenna

    Republicans, as usual, are going to muck up this campaign. Democrats just vote D, no matter who or what. We have to get Obama out of the WH. Stop picking at Romney. He is the ONLY Republican who can pull in moderates. No one will vote for a pro-lifer. I’m sorry, it’s the truth.

    Please don’t muck this up.

    • Joe

      It looks like the country is pretty split on Pro-life/Pro-Infantcide. Check out this poll:

    • Joe

      In addition, last time I checked, Ronald Reagan, and both Bush 41 & 43 were all Pro-Life.

      • Jenna

        Do you think George Bush would get elected in November? I’m a Republican and I truly believe this is our last chance. If we lose in November, our chances will be minimal after that. Unless Marco Rubio can perform a miracle.

    • Mary Whelton

      Bravo Jenna! Well said.

  • Darkcloud

    Romney is representative of big Republican business. Santorum while not perfect puts Pennsylvania in play while probably protecting the other red states. Moderates don’t win elections on the Republican side, maybe on the Democrat side they do, that’s why candidates like Clinton an Obama always run to the middle in the general election but quickly revert to their roots as soon as they get into office. Bob Dole, John McCain,and Bush 41 ran as moderates and got nowhere. Bush 43 ran as a conservative and governed as a moderate and would have been beaten in 04 if the Dems had run a moderate/right candidate instead of the out in open leftist Kerry. If the Repubs want to win they better run a conservative or get ready for a truly catastrophic government freed to implement their true communist tendencies.

  • Susan Tenofsky

    Who is best equipped with dealing with destroying
    the progressive agenda? Americans are desperate for
    that man to turn the “economy” around and progressives refuse to do it. Has Mitt campaigned relentlessly to bow to progressives? I think not.

  • kayakbob

    Interesting. I have always considered myself as a “true” conservative, but I don’t understand the “anybody but Romney” attitude. Ok, I guess I understand it, but understanding it is different from hanging onto it, damn the consequences. And yes, I will buy the principled argument aspect of “anybody but Romney”.

    But again, how far do we, as conservatives, really want to go with it? The battle is against the distructive ideas of liberalism, not RHINO vs “true” conservatism.

    • Mary Whelton

      I consider myself a conservative as well and also cant understand the “anybody but Romney” thing. But I look at it from a lighter side. Since when is a Mormon NOT a conservative?
      Maybe Romney could start that third party. He would still win!

  • Dave O’Connor

    There is a further issue to consider here, even beyond the personality of Romney or whomever.
    It is the “PRESIDENCY”; by which I mean a team than would chosen to form a team to execute policies (and not all policies gel).
    To me, that wouuld be a man who has shown a record of doing so in his experience. To date, that is Romney.

  • DOOM161

    The only people that see Romney as a moderate are leftists. Forced health care is not moderate, especially when you continue to defend it, knowing that your constituency doesn’t like it.

  • Sam

    Bernie says [I think “real conservatives” would rather lose – standing by their precious principles] You’re damn right Bernie. And I make no apologies for it…especially when those principles are grounded by the U.S. Constitution and my faith in my Creator.

    • EddieD_Boston

      Ya, but do you want 4 more years with the clueless community organizer?

      • DOOM161

        I’ve already lived through 13 years of Bush doctrine. I’d rather have 4 more than possibly 8 more.

    • Ron Kean

      The problem is that you betray the rest of us who basically agree with you but will take the medicine to reverse the ailment.

      • Saranya

        Lib-bots clatriney have a way with words that’s not connected to reality. Secular Conservatism only exists in the fogbound mind of new age DemocRatz and “moderate socialists.”

  • Ken Besig

    The “true conservatives” will hold their noses and vote for Romney. The moderate conservatives will simply acknowledge that Romney is not perfect and vote for him. The “Ron Paul conservatives” don’t really matter. But let’s go further with Ron Paul.
    The “Ron Paul lunatic fringe conservatives” might grumble, complain, whine, and moan and possibly show their pique by not voting for anyone. Or if their god Ron decides to go Third Party, they might vote for him. So what, their numbers are insignificant and frankly they would rather be “right” and lose.
    Most conservatives, “true believers” and moderates, would prefer that Romney win so they will vote for him.

    • PeterK

      Ron Paul will win!!

  • IndependentLasVegas

    If someone had cancer they may not like surgeon’s personality but he can remove 100% of the cancer.

    Romney is not the perfect candidate but he can beat Obama. The bottom line is get rid of the cancer in the Whitehouse

  • ScottOnCapeCod

    Bernie I would love our candidate to have the Moral standards of Santorum, The Chinese language skills of Huntsman, The swagger of Perry, the “I” of Newt (His Intellect minus the snarky temperament), The tenacity of Bachmann, the blind allegiance of Ron Paul’s Followers and the Business experience and Presidential looks of Mitt…
    But we only get one and that one candidate has to do just one thing: Convince the middle that he is a better choice than the current occupant.
    I am paying through the nose because of RomneyCare, I live in mASSachusetts, but IMHO Mitt looks like he is the best bet in an imperfect world.

    • Susan Tenofsky

      Simply put: I agree, and I hope a lot of other voters see it that way too. I surely hope Ron Paul does not get too cantankerous and decide to run as an independent giving Obama another 4 years to continue on his true path of destruction.

      • ScottOnCapeCod

        Agree, No More “Fundamentally Transforming” the Country. 1-N-DONE

    • Dave O’Connor

      Good points, Scott. Four years ago, I and many other Massachusetts Republicans fired off “ABM’s” (Anyone But Mitt).
      Aftr 12 years on the GOP State Committee, there were a few of us who noticed his lack of ‘coat-tails’ – less and less campaigning for GOP candidates here.
      But, today?
      I must think of the country, you, me and those who live here.

      • ScottOnCapeCod

        The sad thing is that our votes (in mASSacusetts) will be offset by the millions in the Bay State voting “D” in their every 4 year Pavlovian response to elections.
        I use to have the satisfaction knowing that MY VOTE cancelled out Ted Kennedy’s… I guess I will just have to settle for taking out Kerry’s vote.
        Thanks for the comment.

        • EddieD_Boston

          A ton of my union buddies have been out of work for over two years. The D doesn’t look like such a lock right now.

  • Sam

    Romney and McCain…aren’t they an attractive pair? That’s exactly why the R’s lost last time…because of “conservatives” like McCain and his goofy daughter. No thanks.

    • Susan Tenofsky

      Got any better suggestions?

    • EddieD_Boston

      Don’t agree. McCain looked so OLD next to Obama. Wasn’t a pretty contrast. And McCain is kinda a strange bird if you ask me.

      Romney is much more telegenic. It shouldn’t mean a thing by it does.

  • Bill Coffey SR.

    So let me see, the so called moderates will move to Obama because any Republican save Romney will be too extreme for them. Obama lied last time and pretended to be a conservative in many areas. He is the most extreme Democrat on the planet. There are tons of conservatives hiding in the independent caucuses in order to get along with their Blue State neighbors. 75 % of primary voters are conservatives ergo any one favoring Romney should be labeled as ” any one but a constitutional conservative. We are not thinking any one but Romney we are thinking constitutional conservatives.

    • Julia

      Dan, you’re right, my pnarets never did that to me. My first son, however did that to both my wife and me for the first two years of his life. I guess he was just a Republican from the womb

  • rick geiger
  • Don Rhudy

    Bernie is certainly right about one thing: “I get the impression that ‘real conservatives’ don’t really understand moderates and independents. All they know for sure is that they don’t like them, that they don’t respect them, and that they think they’re no better than liberals.” That is almost right. More correct is: They’re worse than liberals; they’re the Useful Idiots for liberals.

    If Santorum is the nominee and if he takes the fight to Obama, names the names that apply and points out the egregious lawlessness of Obama, Santorum will win.

    • Susan Tenofsky

      Obama has more money, more power, and thus far has gotten away with his reckless and lawless
      behavior. I think he will destroy Santorum
      with negative campaigning no matter how upstanding Santorum is.
      I think Mitt Romney will make it his “business” to destroy Obama.

      • Waldemir

        Just rmeember, as soon as the most Conservative Candidate goes ahead in the polls the MSM will run a hit piece on them. This is the O’s Chicago way TAKE THEM OUT.

  • rick geiger

    The links above are to the exit polling for 2008, and Larry Sabato’s analysis of independents.

    Look through this and you will have to admit that this continuous talk about supposed moderates and independents is a myth.

    What you see is that McCain got creamed in the woman’s vote, he lost it by 13%. If Santorum ran he would also get creamed in the women’s vote, maybe by an even wider margin. Santorum is, to all but hard line conservatives, extreme in his positions on gays, marriage, and abortion. So Bernie is correct on Santorum.

    But Bernie is just wrong on the math about putative independents and moderates. As Sabato notes, really only 7% of voters are true independents. In the last election Obama won independents 52% to 44%, so even if that was switched, and those votes went to McCain, because Obama won by over 9.5MM votes it would have made virtually no difference at all. And also as Sabato notes, a candidate can win the independents and still lose the election because of turnout.

    If we have learned only one thing this year, as Bernie affirms, CONSERVATIVES DONT LIKE ROMNEY.

    Conservatives will not be motivated to turn out for Romney sufficiently to overwhelm the massive turnout that Obama will get.

    Romney is a SURE LOSER to Obama. If Repubs nominate Romney, we had better prepare for 4 more years of the worst president in history, Obama

    • Steve Angers

      I have a lot of respect for Larry Sabato, Rick. For Alan Abramowitz, perhaps not so much. And it is Abramowitz, not Sabato, who authored the analysis you reference, although it does appear on Sabato’s site at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. This analysis it titled: “Setting the Record Straight: Correcting Myths About Independent Voters”. And while it may do so to some degree, the implication that the analysis encompasses the broad center of moderate and independent voters is simply not accurate. Even Abramowitz is careful to distance himself from that suggestion and makes clear that his conclusion applies only under limited circumstances.

      Part of the difficulty with Abramowitz’s analysis is that he defines his own terms and, I would contend, he does so incorrectly. He sets out to prove that moderate voters have less influence in presidential elections than is frequently assumed, so he begins by limiting the number of people who are considered to be moderate voters. He shifts his definition of moderate to the term “independent”, and then attempts to demonstrate that there are few true independents and even fewer who actually vote.

      Abramowitz asserts, correctly, that many voters who are considered independent or moderate still have some degree of party identification, and concludes, incorrectly, that those voters shouldn’t be categorized as independent. That’s a bit of sophistry. The reality is that while a Democrat-leaning or Republican-leaning voter may be more inclined to vote with one party or the other, they are still reasonably vulnerable to disaffection from their tentative affiliation if the other party presents a candidate who is reasonably centrist and their party presents a candidate whose political philosophy is less centrist. The effect is the same as a strong Republican- or Democrat-identifier faced with a moderate candidate, except that the strong identifier rarely has anyplace to go with their vote, except home.

      Abramowitz further contends that these people he identifies as independent frequently don’t have a decisive impact on presidential elections. Again true, but failing to take into consideration the impact that weak Republican- and Democrat-identifiers had on those elections. He isn’t so foolish as to contend that party pandering to the base will guarantee success in presidential elections- since 1964 and 1972 provide some rather telling evidence to the contrary- and simply leaves the suggestion out there that appealing to independents isn’t as important as many believe, and he carefully covers his back end in his final paragraph.

      Abramowitz concludes his analysis by observing : “In a close election, a candidate with an energized and unified party base can sometimes overcome a deficit among independent voters. That doesn’t mean the candidates should ignore independents, but it does mean that unifying and energizing their own party’s base is just as important as appealing to the independents.” That’s a completely reasonable conclusion. But it’s a far cry from your assertion that “Romney is a sure loser to Obama”.

      In my remarks I don’t intend to suggest that the Republicans should ignore their base. Clearly, they are a critical part of the health and success of any party. What I am saying, and have been saying, is that it does no good to satisfy the base if the result is a candidate who won’t be elected. It would be nice if the Republican Party could find a candidate to oppose President Obama who would appeal to the party base and still have enough appeal to moderate voters to be successful. I haven’t seen that candidate out there yet.

  • JohnInMA

    I have yet to hear a good argument for why being non-committed (or independent) is such a heinous choice. I find the opposite to be equally strange. To completely jump on a wagon, whether R or D, means you have to accept everything that happens or is done. For example, I have to either look hard at candidate’s positions independent of their party or just accept the party position and the potential actions that follow. What if someone is fiscally conservative, but social libertarian? What if someone believes the government can solve all problems given time to create enough rules and regulations, but also believes in a strong global defense? To me, people who just accept party line positions are more participants in 1984-style culture than thinkers.

  • Maureen

    As a Floridian voter I am fiscally conservative and socially moderate. Anybody but Obama for me. Actually,Mitt fills the bill more then Santorum,for me.

  • Blakely1

    I want a President who will :
    1. Repeal Obamacare, make Ins. Co. available in all states & stay as much out of my life as much as possible.
    2.Close the border & not make Illegals, Citizens. No Amnesty!
    3.Lower the Debt, perhaps even with austere means.
    4.Always have a balanced budget..No deficit spending.
    5.Who will dismantle the Czars & Agencies that have been acting like elected officials
    6.Who is proud of & loves this country.

  • Vin Bickler

    If everyone who is experiencing a tougher time financially since Stinky BO has been in office votes for the GOP candidate, that guy will win in a landslide…..

    • Susan Tenofsky

      Why can’t people see that? If they can’t I hope they are smart enough to know how to vote, either.

  • EddieD_Boston

    If the republicans nominate Santorum then they deserve to lose. However, the rest of us don’t deserve to have the country morph into Greece.

    Hey idiots, Romney is the most electable, period. Get it? No, normal people don’t think Mormonism is a satanic cult.

  • Joseph Maloney

    Seeing is believing. Grass roots vs GOP astro turf.

    • Aang

      Proud Pinoy July 25, 2009 Yeah, for those who don’t know about this.for best rueslt,use google search. Imagine a world without filipinos .and you would be inspired with the rueslt.

  • Phil Kaiser

    Bernie, I’m sorry but you’re just wrong on this. Reagan didn’t win two landslides by gunning for moderates, he won them by proudly espousing conservative ideals at every opportunity. Unfortunately that was the last time that tactic was tried and look at the candidates we’ve had since: the Bushes (who only won because the Dem’s candidates were much worse), Bob Dole, John McCain and now Mitt Romney? Are you kidding me? Anyone see a pattern here?

    Trust me Bernie, we get someone unafraid to tell the American people all about conservative ideals and the plans to implement them and we’ll see another landslide, the time is ripe! Going for moderates is the sure way to another humiliating defeat for the GOP.

    Phil Kaiser
    Indianapolis, Indiana

    • EddieD_Boston

      It’s the economy stupid. Not calling you stupid but you know what I mean. Obama has no clue and Romney does. Pretty simple.

      • Phil Kaiser

        I agree, but conservative ideals will fix our economy, not mealy-mouthed nonsense designed to curry favor with moderates. It’s worked every time it’s been tried.

        • EddieD_Boston

          Yes. But to do that Obama has to be beaten. First things first.

      • Susan Tenofsky


  • Rick Johnson

    Mark my words; if Romney becomes the next President, most of Obamacare will remain intact and the left will finally get their big tax increase on the rich. As a former President once said, “read my lips”!

  • waterlilies84

    At this point, and in all honesty, my motto has become NObama! I am not a fan of Romney, not because he’s left of center, and I honestly cannot put my finger on it; but then I am not a real fan of any of the others either. My choice was run out on a rail. But I will tell you that I will vote for anyone but BO. I have strong reasons for not liking Ron Paul, I won’t go into them here, but I will vote for Ron Paul rather than see BO get a second term.

    A first term anyone, is less dangerous to our country than a second term BO. So again I say, NObama!


    I’m no fan of Mitt Romney, as he’s well into the “RINO” territory previously typified by McCain. However, his left-of-where-I’d-like-him-to-be politics are NOT what is creating the sudden support by so-called “conservatives” for Santorum, it is, pure and simple, a matter of religion.

    Barry Goldwater warned about this (see a long time ago. What is currently posturing as “conservativism” is actually a thinly veiled push towards an Evangelical Xtian theocracy, and the people involved in this movement do NOT want to see a Mormon President … and the “anybody but Romney” meme has less to do with political stances than it does with what theology is being parroted by the candidates.

    I walked away from the Republican Party (into the arms of the Libertarians) when these same forces saddled G.H.W. Bush with Dan Quayle rather than a more qualified, more “secular” option … and it sickens me that ALL the major candidates on the GOP slate (even Ron Paul), are locked into what I see as an anti-American (as conceived by likes of Jefferson, Franklin, etc.) religious fundamentalism that differs little from what drives the Taliban.

    These Fundamentalist groups would rather put us through another 4 years of Obama that allow somebody following different fairy tales to be President. To borrow imagery from their favorite book (Isaiah 59:3), the blood of this nation will be on their hands if they, pursuing their sectarian biases, prevent a Republican victory against Obama!

    • EddieD_Boston

      I saw a show on A&E called Jesus Camp about suburban Evangelicals. It was interesting and I learned a lot about them.

      Couldn’t make this up…the mother told her kids that Harry Potter was the devil. She was deadly serious.

      And she has the right to vote. Frightening.

  • Ron Kean

    It’s not about the anti-Romney. It’s about the anti-Obama. How many polls does Drudge have to publish about Romney leading Obama?

    I hear Obama’s smart and a great debater. Show me his grades from school. I believe the only reason he won is because somebody engineered the September ’08 financial meltdown which fit the ‘Bush did it’ theme.

    Obama’s wealthiest supporter made big money selling huge amounts of currencies. That person was convicted of criminality in France for the same selling that he did in Britain. He might have learned to disguise his selling to set up Obama.

    I think it’s less about moral religious principles than the survival of a sovereign state. Romney was with a high-power consulting firm. These people lob off some percentage of this and some percentage of that and reinforce the parts of the concern that insure survival.

    That’s what he is trained to do. Who’s Santorum?

  • Bruce A.

    One early contest & everyone is frothing at the mouth. Here’s an idea. National Primary Day, one shot, it’s done & the entire cross section of the voters could have their say. Not just one state.

  • john marzan

    How about a new Poll–Mitt Romney vs Generic “Anybody but Romney”?

    Who wins here?

    • cmacrider

      great post

  • cmacrider

    Bernard: You have written on this theme several times recently but I suggest that you haven’t answered the concerns conservatives have with Mitt Romney. I suggest those concerns can be enumerated as follows:
    1. They are not convinced that Romney has the “best chance of winning” because: (a) he is less exciting than a re-run of “Bringing up Father” and may lose for the same reasons as McCain (b) His record as a “winning politician” is far from stellar, in fact, he chose not to run for Governor for an additional term because he knew he couldn’t win again in Massachusetts (c) the theory that independents will go with Romney because he is more moderate is not necessarily valid … after all they went with a socialist in the last election (d) Romney has been campaigning for this position for about 5 years now and has no shortage of campaign funds and he still only has about 23% of the Republican support. (d) he is talking about fine tuning this or that, tinkering with the budget, keeping the good parts of Obamacare when many people think that the U.S.A. needs to boldly return to those values which made it a great country.
    These are the questions conservatives need answering because the Republican Establishment always roles out a Dole/McCain clone who history has shown can’t win. In short, the GOP Establishment has to show conservatives that their horse CAN WIN .. not simply that he has the best chance to come in second in a two horse race. So far that argument has not been made convincingly. If Romney cannot get 3/4 of registered Republicans on board what reason is there to believe that once the Obama machine gets on a roll he is going to attract the independent???
    These are the questions that require answers by 75% of the Republican Party.

    • Steve Angers

      A couple of days ago, in response to Bernie’s column titled “I Have a Confession to Make…”, I went into some of the reasons why I believe Romney stands a better chance of defeating President Obama than any of the other Republicans in the field. I won’t bore everyone here by rehashing that argument (that’s right, today I have other material with which to bore you), but feel free to look that post up if you’re interested.

      I think the questions you ask in your post are largely the wrong questions. They have some validity, but they aren’t the important questions to ask in considering which candidate is most electable. They’re largely minor concerns. You could summarize most of them by asking: “Is Mitt Romney the perfect candidate?” Answer: “No. He’s not.” But is there a better candidate to defeat President Obama in November currently available in the Republican field? I haven’t seen one yet.

      The idea that Romney is less likely to win over independent voters than conservative Republican candidates only makes sense if those independent voters were conservative (and then they wouldn’t be independent, would they?) or clearly in a mood to vote conservative for at least this election cycle. There is no convincing evidence that this is the case. While most Americans feel that the country is on the wrong track, and “many” (but far from a majority of) people may feel that the United States “needs to boldly return to those values which made it a great country”, there aren’t a huge number of Americans suggesting that the solutions to our problems require radical change. The empirical evidence is that independent voters want to see moderate change away from the direction in which the country is currently moving, not a break-neck dash in another direction. Personally, I’m a little puzzled by conservatives’ apparent belief that moderate or independent voters might not be motivated to replace Obama with someone who generally shares their moderate views but would get all excited over a conservative candidate whose views are distinctly different from their own.

      There are years where the electorate will swing to one political extreme or the other, but there are always unusual circumstances surrounding these elections. In 1980 the electorate, very concerned about economic issues and unsettling world events, voted a conservative Republican into office. But part of the reason they were willing to make that choice had to do with Ronald Reagan’s appealing personality and the pervasive belief that Jimmy Carter was an utter failure as President. In 1964, faced with a less likeable conservative in Barry Goldwater, and with fewer concerns about the direction in which the country was going, the electorate handed the Republican Party its second-worst electoral college defeat since 1912. Similarly, in 2008 the American electorate was willing to take a chance on a very liberal candidate because they found him personally likeable and they had become increasingly unhappy with the direction in which the Republicans had taken the country. But in 1972, despite an incumbent who was not particularly liked and some growing concerns about economic and international issues, the electorate handed the Democrat Party a sound thrashing (coincidentally, its second-worst electoral college defeat since 1912) when they put forward the very liberal George McGovern as their candidate.

      The reason the “Republican establishment” tends to support moderate candidates is because, absent unusual circumstance, moderate candidates have the best chance of convincing a majority of the voters to support them. While it might be nice to have a President ready to use the office to advance views that are completely in sync with the most deeply held Republican values, they know that you can’t advance any Republican values unless you can first succeed in winning the office. And establishment types, after all, do tend to be nasty pragmatists who would rather be in a position to influence some change instead of sitting on the sidelines for four years whining about how bad things are.

      So while you might believe, and I might even agree, that the country could use a strong dose of fiscal conservatism and limited government, most Americans are still leery of too much change, or rapid change. There’s nothing to strongly suggest that 2012 would be one of those rare years when independent voters are willing to embrace a broad and unsettling shift in direction. The Republican Party leaders won’t willingly go out on a limb with a very conservative candidate unless: the voters signal that they are ready to embrace seismic change, or the conservative ranks can push someone forward who is so appealing to the majority of Americans that they might be willing to overlook major differences in political and personal values, or there is simply no moderate Republican candidate competent enough to carry the Party’s banner into the race against President Obama.

      To answer your questions: Romney is not an ideal candidate, but he does appear to be the best candidate available to the Republicans at this time. Now I have some questions for you. Are you serious about winning the Presidency and defeating President Obama in November (and starting to undo the damage he has done while in office), or is it more important to you to put forward a candidate who closely shares your political philosophy? Do the conservatives have a candidate who is so exciting that moderates and independents will overlook their potential discomfort with his or her policies? Do the conservatives have a candidate with a flawless record as a “winning politician” on any significant level? Do the conservatives have a candidate whose support among Republicans has cracked the 25% level or, more important, has cracked the 25% level among independents? Can the conservatives demonstrate, with some level of reliability, that they have a candidate to put forward who stands a better chance of defeating President Obama than Mitt Romney has, or even a candidate who stands a reasonable chance of defeating the President? Because that, in the final analysis, is going to carry a lot more weight with many Republicans than simply finding a candidate that is most in sync with what are generally considered conservative core values.

      • Skylar

        kckaiit5 on August 30, 2011 I luv my beautiful shiny long flowy black hair n_n its my most beautiful asset n_n (bit egotistic?? <3)

  • Bill F Wade

    Gingrich is the only one able to handle himself in a theoretical debate with Obama, given enough funding to also respond to negative Obama ads. Gingrich is also better skilled at building a perception that the mushy minded middle can buy into. Aside from this, Pragmatism leads to a destructive slippery slope and those who praise the idea of appealing to the mushy minded middle on the grounds that the “ends justify the means” are situational ethicists. This little fact they never argue for but instead, beg the entire question. They are either too ignorant of philosophy and it’s ethical systems, or are epistemologically self conscious of its historically failed ethical system and don’t want to have to defend it,thus begging the very question their arguments and articles are based upon. I see too many supposedly popular level thinkers with emphasis on popular levvel, that never question their own presuppositions, hell I don’t believe most of them know or practice looking at them. When you study philosophy for awhile you get good at looking at them and testing ideas by them. I like the writer of this article but he sometimes demonstrates an ignorance of the presuppositions that underlay his assertions. Not always but sometimes.

  • M. S. N.

    ALL of the media, except for maybe a handful (i.e., Rush, Beck, Hannity), are brainwashed. They believe that the moderates and independents are the only votes that need to be dealt with.

    Look at 1984 into Jan 20, 1985. Reagan won 49 states. He could care less what the Independenets and Moderates had to say. He stuck to his guns.

    That is what Santorum needs to do. Stick to his guns, ignore the media, quit worrying about the left and the center and do what he knows is right.

    Trust the American public. Not all of them may be considered intelligent, but the bulk of them can see the obvious – Elmer Fudd could beat Obama.

    • John

      i wld agre if….IF…it was 1985. we are split down the middle and our dopey electorate likes obama and the media….well dont get me started.

  • Virgil Renfroe

    I lean a little more to the Rush opinion, I happen to have more faith in the people. I can,t believe we were dumb enough to elect Obama in the first place. Never in history has so little knowledge and experience been given so much power..

  • Thomas Fenusz

    Agree! Santorum does not have the right appeal to the general electorate, and elections are still won in the center. Thats why I think eventually Newt Gingrich is the only Republican who can defeat Pres. Obama. He is the real anti-establishment candidate, while Romney seems to be a part of it. The entire Republican nomenclatura is bashing Newt. In light of the general disapproval of politicians, parties and congress in particular, Newt may be perceived as the true alternative to everything that is wrong with and in Washington, including the President.

  • Linda

    I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Goldberg. I have never cared for Mitt Romney and have seen nothing to change my opinion of him. That being said, if he is the nominee, I will vote for him even if I have to hold my nose as I do. We need to send Obama and his cronies packing and that is the bottom line.

  • John

    Spot on Mr. Goldberg. It is bewildering how some conservatives don’t get that the goal is to win the election. I mean really…..I’m asking….what is it already? Is Romney going to get in office and push forward the progressive agenda? Is that what the fear is? Help me out here!