Obama is back in the White House and the Republicans have received a kicking across the country in the Senate elections. So where did it all go so wrong for the Republicans?
Some things in political campaigning are priceless. Having your opponent call nearly half of the electorate ‘scroungers’ who will ‘never vote’ for you, to give just one example. Some things though cost, and cost a lot. The latest set of US elections are predicted to cost as much as $6 billion. However much either party pumped into the campaign though, did anything cost the Republicans as much as their various candidate’s gaffs?
From Obama’s campaign perspective, for the last few months the Republicans have just kept giving.
Remember Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ comments? When defending his absolutist view on abortion (he would ban the morning after pill) he said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”. Wow.
Instead of running a country mile from Akin’s outrageous comments, the Republican Party pumped $700,000 into his campaign efforts. And then they wonder how they alienated the female vote!
Surprise surprise, the electorate backed the Democrat, Claire McCaskill who has been described in the Huffington Post as “a true champion for women and families”.
It doesn’t stop here though. Remember, the ‘Teahadist’ and Senate candidate Richard Mourdock comments on rape? He said if a woman becomes pregnant after being raped then this is “something God intended”. Again, just wow.
Of course, it isn’t just rape. Republicans have found a number of subjects to blunder over.
Connie Mack IV (an actual name), the Republican candidate in Florida was accused of road rage and a string of violent brawls. Not exactly vote winners. One wonders what he wrote on the section of the nomination form that asks “do you have anything in your past that could be politically damaging”.
This is all before we have even started with the Presidential candidate himself – Romney, far from blameless but also the inevitable scapegoat for the Republicans.
During the primaries (a fiercely contested contest) Romney had little choice but to appeal to the religious right, not only on religious issues but on social policy and foreign affairs. On polarizing issues such as gay marriage, Romney left no doubt as to where he, and any future administration that he would head, stood on these issues that so titillate the republican right.
A rejection by the middle ground was inevitable.
No republican strategist though has yet offer an answer as to how the Republicans expect the result to be any different in 2016? If they insist that all their candidates publicly fight it out to see who can appear the biggest reactionary bigot, before then having to head out to try and appeal to Middle America?
Sooner or later the Republicans are going to have to do some soul searching and face up to the vested interests in their party and tackle the toxicity of the Tea Party brand.
The Tea Party movement holds within it some wealthy donors – David Koch for example, purportedly the fourth richest man in America! Sooner or later though the Republicans will realise that there are some things more important than money. Money can’t buy you love, let alone the centre ground in American politics.
Last nights Senate and Presidential results illustrated this all too clearly as they failed to make progress in many key swing states.