Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Neocon politics costing precious votes in swing states

Local GOP activists alarmed Obama will benefit

Waco - Sentiments of radical right Christian and Tea Party enthusiasts are costing votes in swing states; the numbers don't lie.

Long-time Republican moderate activists and office holders are starting to chafe at their prospects in the White House and on Capitol Hill.

“We've been taken over by a bunch of radical right, evangelical Christian nuts – and they're going to drive the deal - we'll wind up re-electing Obama this year as a result.”

Though the speaker declined attribution of his best sidewalk, street level analysis, there are plenty of poll numbers out there to back up what amounts to the kind of count-every-vote-in-every-ballot box savvy it takes to be elected, and re-elected, to local office as a Party of Lincoln stalwart in the land of cotton.

The most glaring signs are the ones on prominent display at the filling stations, where prices hover near the back-breaking 2008 psychological barrier of $4 per gallon, with no end in sight.

“The average price of a gallon has risen by more than fifteen percent since January, and congressional Republicans have repeatedly attacked the President for not doing enough to keep prices down. Between 2010 and 2011, over-all spending on gasoline in the United States rose by twenty-five percent; the percentage of household income that Americans spend on gas has tripled since the late nineteen-nineties,” wrote Steve Coll in this week's edition of “The New Yorker.”

In a take-out business profile about how “the evolution” of Irving-based Exxon-Mobil as “the country's biggest and most powerful oil company into a finance arm of the Republican Party is a story of both energy economics and style,” Mr. Coll ventures the opinion that the world's largest energy purveyor “has developed an algorithmic formula for political spending and lobbying that has reinforced its alignment with Republican candidates in ways that Democrats could hardly see as anything but antagonistic.”

McLennan County Republican Chairman Joe B. Hinton is a former Vice President of Exxon-Mobil, which has posted record quarterly profits on its products for a couple of decades with about 90 percent of its political contributions going to Republican PAC's from a profit center that tops annual revenues of more than 400 billion dollars.

He is challenged by Ralph Patterson, a local business man backed by the grass roots GOPIsForMe faction laboring hard to bring Hispanic voters into the Republican fold. Mr. Hinton has declined to debate Mr. Patterson.

Then there is the blood letting shown in polls of the 12 swing states – the battlegrounds where the electoral votes needed to elect or reject Mr. Obama will be found.

Women, particularly younger women under 50, are in full flight from the kind of in-your-face hostility, that fabled “uncivility” so often heralded by liberal pundits over social cares entirely extraneous to the economic issues that make it so hard for a young home maker to get to work, pay for child care, retire student loans, provide housing and pay the grocery bills.

“At this point in the presidential race between incumbent Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the focus is on two men arguing about women – how to woo them (politically speaking), who best represents their particular interests, which first lady reflects today’s American woman,” wrote Brad Knickerbocker of “The Christian Science Monitor.”

Sure, young mommies care about the economically extraneous issues of prayer in the schools, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, drugs, and dealing with burned-out dopers who can't work, but live on food stamps and buy alcohol and drugs with their Lone Star Cards. They care a lot about all that. Who doesn't?

Their cares don't help them fill their gas tanks or pay their bills at the pediatricians' offices.

People who worked hard to get out the vote and register boll weevils who had traditionally voted Democratic when Texas had only one party and one party only are standing around on one foot, then the other while the newly conservative neocons squander those hard-earned votes in ideological tilts with the kind of social windmills the broadest base of voters – working men and women - never signed up to fight.

In one month's time, approval for Mr. Obama surged by double digits in 12 swing states, according to a Gallup Poll. He leads by 51 percent to Gov. Mitt Romney's 42 percent, when in February, he trailed 46 to 48 percent with a plus or minus margin for error of 4 percent.

While fewer than half of women under 50 supported Mr. Obama in February, more than 60 percent now prefer the President's re-election over that of Mitt Romney, who nets 30 percent, down 14 points from last month, according to ABC News.

It all depends on who is interpreting the numbers. For instance, Stuart Rothenburg, editor of "TheRothenburg Political Report," in an article published in “Roll Call,” has a different take on what is going on in those 12 states.

Nationwide, figures show Obama's support actually dropped by 4 points from 59 percent to 55 percent among women under 50 over the same period.

Why would national TV coverage produce big swings only in the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin?

If the "Republican war on women" is driving the change in women's polls, why did Romney's support among men nationally drop dramatically as well? Rothenberg notes: "Among men, Romney's 16-point advantage in October shrunk to just 3 points in March?" asks Maggie Gallagher in “Real Clear Politics.”

"I can't explain the different results, and I'm not trying to," Rothenburg concludes.

Ms. Gallagher's conclusion is simple enough, and it matches the smart money among seasoned Republican veterans of the fray who operate locally:

“Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has spent $19 million on media this election cycle (including $3.7 million on broadcast media), and the DNC has tossed in another $10.6 million (including $8 million for broadcast media) in this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org, “ Ms. Gallagher wrote.

“According to published reports, they are concentrating their ad buys in swing states.

“The RNC has spent just $1.6 million on media so far. Romney has spent $20 million over this election cycle -- and his super PAC more -- but not on ads attacking Obama.

“What voters were hearing about Romney on the airwaves in March was all virtually negative. Obama was getting off scot-free because Romney's money was being spent attacking Republicans.”

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