Has there ever been a primary election like this? I don’t recall there ever having been a single person in second place the entire primary election with, so far, three (or is it four? Do I count Bauchman or not?) first place front runners having risen and fallen. And now it’s Gingrich’s turn to be the Evangelical darling. I call this one for Gingrich if for no other reason than he’s not a Mormon.
Apparently the news media is out of tune with the Republican party (well, we knew that…). For they were unable to guess that the “I hate Mormons” factor of the Republican party would have caused the single least likely candidate to end up getting the nomination. Even just a few weeks ago, the idea that the Republicans running Gingrich seemed literally unthinkable to anyone that didn’t understand just how bigoted 1/3 of Evangelicals are towards Mormons.
Even now, the news just doesn’t seem to get it. Even just a few days ago they were still saying things like “Is Mitt Inevitable?” or even “Mitt is inevitable.” It just doesn’t make rational sense to run Gingrich, so no one (expect the 1/3 of Evangelicals that is bigoted) rationally expects it. Even now the media still thinks Gingrich is going to ‘flare out’ like the other anti-Romney candidates have. They still don’t ‘get it.’ It’s his religion, stupid.
What happened to the (now proven false) conventional wisdom that Evangelicals will not vote for someone as morally devoid as Gingrich. Remember Clinton? Remember how much Evangelicals hated Clinton? Well, Gingrich was actually having an affair while attacking Clinton for having an affair. So, of course, there is no way “value voters” would ever vote for him right?
Well… actually… that whole ‘value voter’ thing is not the primary concern of these voters. Never has been. Stephen E. Robinson tells a story in one of his books about how a number of Evangelicals threatened to call off a protest against the porn industry if Mormons were involved. Religion first, values second. I’m shocked that you’re shocked.
Oh, I know, I know, it’s not about religion for Evangelicals. It’s really about Romney not being conservative enough or too much of a flip flopper. That’s why they decided to go for Gingrich… you see… er… never mind. Oh forget it, I guess it is about religion after all.
But at least they care about winning, right? Well… it complicated.
Sure, they’d love to win and put out Obama. And, sure, if they have no choice but to choose between Obama and Romney, they’d rather vote for Romney… well, most of them anyhow. But truth be told, they’d rather seriously risk losing the election then vote for a Mormon. Hope springs eternal.
It’s well known that Romney is doing better in Obama vs. Romney match ups in the polls then Gingrich could ever do. Romney would probably lose, I admit, but he at least had a chance. Gingrich is known to have no chance. Strange as it may sound, the 1/3 of Evangelicals that are bigots towards Mormons are actually working with the Democrats to beat Romney. You see, the Democrats want Gingrich to win. Gingrich is their man!
“I did not think I had lived a good enough life to be rewarded by Newt Gingrich being the Republican nominee,” retiring liberal Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said this week. “It still is unlikely, but I have hopes.”
So a partnership with 1/3 of Evangelical voters and Democrats to oust Romney is exactly what we should have expected.
At this point, there is just no denying it. The sole determining factor for some decent sized portion of the Republican base is Romney’s religion. They will not vote for a Mormon if they can help it. For Romney to over come that portion of the party, he’d have to pretty much win everyone else. A feat no primary candidate that isn’t already holding the presidential office could possibly hope to achieve.
They can no longer hide behind their past excuses. It can’t possibly be about flip flopping, for Gingrich was a huge flip flopper. It can’t be about Romney not being conservative enough, for Gingrich really isn’t that conservative. (Note that this was true for John McCan as well. There is no way McCain could have been the Republican candidate had it not been for the Mormon factor.) It can’t be that they are voting “anti-establishment” as they used to claim when Perry, Bauchman, or Cain were on top. Who is more ‘establishment’ then Gingrich? What excuses haven’t been demolished by this point?
The simple unadulterated truth is that this is about bigotry. Of course it’s not that everyone that won’t vote for Romney is a bigot. Not even close. But that’s just a misreading of what I am saying anyhow. It’s that 1/3 of Evangelicals, that probably make up a fairly small part of the overall voting population (say 10% to 15%), is still enough to make it impossible for someone to win as president if they vote for anyone but him.
This is Romney’s main problem. Flip flopping can be over come. Being too slick can be over come. Having previously been a moderate can be over come… oh, never mind that one. That’s actually a strength, not a weakness in the general election.