Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Southern Strategy

As soon as folks are done celebrating the New Year, it will be time for the Iowa caucuses. Pundits are tripping over themselves trying to predict what will happen there. But I'm not going to jump into that pool. I'll simply say that, when it comes to the Republican nomination, the only role Iowa (or NH for that matter) will play in the primary season is the extent to which they might affect how things go in the Southern states. We all know that's where the action is for Republicans. As a reminder, just look at the 2008 electoral map.

There's not much controversy about where the Republican base lies.

My thought is that the real predictor of what this primary is going to look like will come - not next Tuesday - but on January 21st when South Carolina weighs in. The extent to which the Iowa caucuses and NH primary influence that race will be their only significance. So that's the one I'll be keeping my eye on.

In the meantime, there are a few stories about the race that I found interesting today.

First of all Josh Marshall, who's been talking about the "Murdoch Primary," finally called it as he sees it yesterday. And the winner is...Mitt Romney. I'm not sure how he came to that conclusion since he doesn't really say. But Media Matters has been running the numbers on the Fox Primary. Their last entry was for the week of Dec. 12-18.

Secondly, I've talked before about how the lack of money for ads won't necessarily be a deal-breaker for Gingrich. That was born out by the fact that Newsmax will be running a 30 minute piece on Gingrich 200 times in all the major Iowa media markets over the weekend. In addition, both Liberty University (the school founded by Jerry Falwell) and Citizens United are running ads about Gingrich there.

Finally, the LA Times ran a story about something I've suggested will likely happen in the Iowa caucuses.

Adding an unpredictable element to the presidential contest in Iowa, some disaffected Democratic voters are planning to switch sides and cast Republican ballots in Tuesday's caucuses.

Caucus rules limit participation to registered party members. But anyone who shows up at a Republican caucus — including Democrats, independents and libertarians — can join the GOP or switch their party affiliation on the spot.

Rep. Ron Paul, in a tight race for first place in Iowa with Mitt Romney, is perhaps the most likely to benefit from Democratic crossovers. His campaign is distributing information sheets advising Iowans that they can register Republican "for a day" on caucus night, then switch their registration back afterward if they want.

So grab the popcorn. Following right on the heels of your New Year's celebration...the show is about to begin!


  1. The problem for Republicans with the Southern Strategy is that its success was predicated on maintaining a grip on the northeast. There aren't enough electoral votes in the south to bring home an election. Worse, there are now southern states in actual play, viz., NC and FL. I almost feel like NC is leaning blue. That's the problem with the strategy. To pull in more voters, the GOP leans right, because to lean toward the center (I can't say "lean left") loses voters on the right to the extent that it might be a net loss for the GOP. So, to the right, but this alienates swing voters.

    This is a structural issue beyond any personalities. Romney doesn't have a personality anyway. The GOP will need some external means (racism, war) to boost its appeal to reactionary whites until they adopt a new strategy. I don't see them adopting a new strategy either, as too many people are invested, particularly in media, in the current one.

  2. Spot-on analysis Bill.

    I only fear the effects of that strategy about driving support through racism. We all know they're going to do it - its the only option given the path they've chosen. But it will be ugly and damaging to the country.

  3. It will be damaging for sure, but it's damaging in the sense that it exposes what is already there. Since the 1960's as I know you don't need me to explain--I'm chuckling--white racism has encoded itself as a defense against exposure. Opposition to busing, for example. This brings it out, and there is surely a marginal problem where some young people who might otherwise think more clearly are infected by it.

    I see it in a way like how a meditation practice can in its early phases make a person, like it did me, feel worse rather than better. It does so because it makes feelings present which one--me, for example--had stuffed down. Once the feelings are up, one can examine them. This is sort of what the country is doing now, and it does not feel good.

    We know the Democratic party has its institutionally racist problems but it is the party that welcomes, if often as junior partners, people who aren't white. That gives its politics a possibility of moving forward. Done so already, of course: the Democratic party nominated a Black man against the sense of its pezzonovanti and won an election as a result of it. No way that's not movement in a good direction for the country.

  4. Good Morning
    I find the blanket coverage of the Iowa caucus racist in the extreme! Less than 5% of its 95% white evangelical citizens will even bother to attend the caucus. What could any possible outcome say about the election of the next president of the USA some 11 months away?

    The amount of money being expended in ads and the monetary value of the tv coverage is obscene.

    Look at what we are not paying attention to in the world including our own country. I feel sick!


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