Three Primary Strategies for GOP in 2012

Contributed by Shell Suber

There are three competing political strategies at work in this primary:

1. RUN HARD RIGHT AND WIN: Supporters of this strategy would have the GOP nominate a far right candidate as a winning strategy. “Make the difference between us and them stark and unapologetic. Voters will be impressed and reward the straightforward honesty.”

2. RUN HARD RIGHT AND ‘LOSE WITH HONOR’: Some suggest the GOP nominate a far right candidate to make a meaningful ideological impression on the electorate about the integrity of the conservative movement. “Why not make a statement since, historically speaking, we are unlikely to win in any case.”

3. RUN MIDDLE AND TRY TO WIN: Some suggest the GOP nominate a more electable (moderate) candidate and give themselves the best chance to win should the incumbent trip up.

For my money, beating Obama is a long shot. If you don’t believe that, you are living in a dream world and have very little understanding of the historical precedents and voter mentality necessary for firing a president. However, accepting that it’s a long shot, there is merit in all three of the above strategies.

Strategy 1 is a VERY long shot but it could work if Obama can be successfully redefined as a pure political opportunist who will do or say whatever keeps him in power. That is a tough sell since most voters, whether they agree with him or not, think he genuinely believes his left wing, big government agenda is best for America.

The merit of Strategy 2 is best demonstrated, in my mind, by looking at the 1964 election that pitted a heavily favored big-government incumbent (LBJ) against a hard right ideologue (Barry Goldwater.) Johnson easily won the battle but Republicans won the war because of the impression they made on legions of young, impressionable future leaders who later rallied around Goldwater protégée Ronald Reagan and ushered in a new era in American politics a few elections later. There isn’t a conservative icon over the age of 65 who doesn’t LOVE to tell the story of how working for Goldwater in ’64 changed his or her life. If Reagan was the conservative messiah of the 20th century, Goldwater was John the Baptist.

Strategy 3 is the safest, most likely path to victory for the GOP in 2012 and the one I believe voters will eventually adopt. Any coach will tell you, when you are the underdog, play smart, don’t make any mistakes and give yourself a chance to be there in the end in case the other guy drops the ball and you get a lucky break. A calmer, more moderate candidate who can appeal to centrist voters is the best bet for being in a position to swoop in and win should some scandal or disaster befall the Obama campaign in the last 90 or so days of the election.

Of course, if Obama is re-elected there will be no shortage of “I told you so’s” from supporters of the two strategies that were passed over and there will be no explaining that the most likely reason Obama won is because he is the incumbent and Americans rarely fire their president.

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4 Comments to “Three Primary Strategies for GOP in 2012”

  1. Shell, your reasoning is flawed . Here’s why – First of all Goldwater was a hard right conservative. so that would have been Strategy 1, not 2. Reagan was Strategy 1 and won. Strategy 3 didn’t work with McCain of Bush 1 who was not a true conservative. .
    This is about picking the candidate who is genuine, who will make some really tough choices with our economy ( cut gov’t spending & pay rolls, create a better, cut taxes for ALL , and create more fair tax code), keep his/her word to the American people, quit being embarrassed about America & apologizing to the world be a leader to the world. To quote Rush “Conservatism wins every time it’s tried”

  2. Bob – Goldwater lost, which puts him into the 2nd category – or the “Too right wing to win, but we will be proud of ourselves that we tried” category. Goldwater’s most celebrated disciple, Ronald Reagan, was indeed the 1st strategy – or the “Same product as Barry but with considerably better packaging (and timing).” Strategy 3 is playing the odds. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. I don’t know if we have the candidate to knock off Obama but if we do, it’s not going to be because we nominated a hard line conservative. It’s going to be because we nominate someone who looks capable and competent while Obama is seen by voters as neither, a man in over his head. I hope we can find that person and it would be GREAT if that person was VERY conservative, but the appearance of unflappable, confident, and thoroughly capable is the more important if the goal is winning.

  3. Oops You are correct I didn’t see the WIn part in the Strategy 1. However your premise is still incorrect a middle of the road GOP candidate will lose. They lose every time. (of course this time the American people may be so pissed off at Obama and economy they would elect Daffy Duck). McCain was too centrist. Huckabee, maybe too far right ( don’t know exactly)

  4. BAIN OWNS LIMBAUGH & HANNITY SHOWS!!! START WITH THAT!!!
    2ND, ITS A REAL MYTH, ROMNEY COULD EVER BEAT OBAMA!!! LAUGHABLE, EVEN THOUGH GOLDMAN SACHS OWNS ROMNEY NOW!!! OBAMA HAS EVEN HELPED ROMNEY CLIMB OVER OUR REAL CANDIDATES!!!

    LIKE ITS NOT A COMMON TACTIC FOR THE LEFT, TO USE A REAL ARGUMENT AGAINST US, TO KEEP INFIGHTING!! DOESNT MATTER IF OBAM OR WHO IS USING OUR ARGUMENT, IF ITS TRUE!!! BUT, PROPAGANDA SAYING WE ARE HELPING OBAMA IS JUST TO BACK US DOWN, TO NOT VERIFY, ROMNEYS BIG/FAKE MANAGT. EXPERIENCE!!!

    HERES WHAT I FIND DESPICABLE!! ***RUSH LIMBAUGH** STARTS AN AVALANCE, AGAINST ANY REPUB THAT EVEN DARES..QUESTION NOT CAPITALISM!!! [THESE FOLKS NEED A DICTIONARY & SOME GUTS!!] BUT, INSTEAD, NEWT & PERRYS REQUEST, THAT ROMNEY PROVE HIS RECORD, WAS **HONEST BUSINESS!!! -YET, RUSH, FOX, HANNITY, AND NONE OF THE MEDIA!! MENTION MAYBE RUSH LIMBAUGH REAL REASON FOR BACKING ROMNEY??? IS THAT BAIN CAPITAL OWNS HIS SHOW!!!!!! AND, HANNITYS!!!! I DONT WANT THE MEDIA PICKING ANOTHER PRESIDENT!! WITH BIAS AND FALSE REPORTING!! SO BAIN OWNS RUSH, HANNITY ECT. THE MEDIA BLACKOUT ON BAIN OWNING LIMBAUGH, AND HIS REAL REASONS FOR ATTACKING REPUBS FOR EVEN ASKING THE QUESTION?? WAS DISHONEST, AND WE SHOULD REPLACE THE MEDIA..RUNNING OUR GOVT. AND, FEEDING US CRAP!! SO HERES TO YOU RUSH LIMBAUGH!!! YOU LOST EVERY BIT OF CREDIBILITY YOU EVER HAD!!! ITS NOT WRONG TO ASK THE QUESTION, ITS NOT WRONG, TO EXPECT A CANDIDATE TO EXPLAIN!! NOT TO MENTION, SINCE WHEN..? DOES A FINANCIER GET CREDIT FOR ***THE BUSINESS OWNERS IDEAS AND SWEAT??? ROMNEY NEVER MANAGED ANYTHING!!!! THROWING MONEY AT SOMETHING… DOESNT MEAN YOU MADE IT SUCCESSFUL!!! THAT CREDIT GOES TO THE PEOPLE, WHO DID THE ACTUAL…WORK!!! I VOTE PERRY!!! NONE OF YOU MEDIA FOLKS ARE CREDIBLE, YOU CENSORED THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FROM THE TRUTH!!! AND, YOU ARE IN THE PROCESS OF GIVING OBAAM A 2ND TERM WITH HIS CHOICE…ROMNEY!!!

    ONE MORE TIME BAIN OWNS, THE MAIN PUNDITS WHO STARTED THIS SMEAR CAMPAIGN ON THE OTHER REPUBS!!! ROMNEY WAS ASKED POLITELY TO EXPLAIN, HE WAS TOO ARROGANT TO, AND ASSUMED, WE..SHOULD ASSUME, HIS PROPAGANDA IS TRUE!!! NO!!! THE MEDIA, OR OBAMA, WILL NOT FIX THIS RACE WITH THEIR PREFERRED CANDIDATE!!! GET BEHIND PERRY, BEFORE ITS TOO LATE!! *Sorry for caps, im old, want to ck spelling!

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