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The GOP's Voting Rules May Empower the Party's Ideologues
Newsweek -- The Daily Beast ^ | December 12, 2011 | Paul Begala

Posted on 12/05/2011 2:29:46 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

The Republican establishment hopes the GOP base will calm down, sober up, and nominate Mitt Romney. But the party’s new primary system may stand in the way.

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Every time I look at the economy I think President Obama can’t win. And every time I look at the Republican field I think he can’t lose.

Let’s face it: this is a weak field. A seemingly endless string of polls and debates have produced a series of frontrunners who, as LBJ said of the Republicans of his day, couldn’t pour pee out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel.

Beltway Republican strategists were content to benefit from the prairie fire of right-wing populism, so long as it scorched the Democrats. But now that it threatens to consume their beloved establishment, they may be powerless to stop it. They keep waiting for the kooks to calm down, sober up, and nominate Mitt Romney—whose idea of a Tea Party involves dainty watercress sandwiches on Beacon Hill, not radical revolutionaries in Boston Harbor.

But what if the GOP primary system, which has been changed for this election cycle, continues to propel a right-wing insurgency? Process matters. Rules matter. And campaigns adapt to them. The Electoral College is essentially a winner-take-all system: if you carry California by one vote, you get all 55 Golden State electors. There is thus very little incentive for Barack Obama to run up the score in the biggest blue state—nor for the GOP to campaign hard in Texas. One may not like the Electoral College (I don’t), but I don’t like the fact that a basketball rim is 10 feet off the ground either.

Being generally less sentimental than Democrats, Republicans have traditionally had a primary system that mirrors the Electoral College: winner take all. That’s a very Republican notion: binary, simple, absolute, and pitiless. Democrats, on the other hand, are the party of Mr. Rogers. Their primaries are like the awards ceremony for 5-year-old T-Ballers: Johnny gets a trophy and Billy gets a trophy and Gracie gets a trophy! Everybody’s a winner!

Proportional representation has its merits. It tends to empower devoted supporters: the kind of people who walk precincts and staff phone banks. In the Democratic Party it has been a powerful tool for promoting the inclusion of women and minorities. In the 2008 Democratic primaries, proportional representation required Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to compete in, as Obama famously put it, “57 states.” There was much fretting about a Democratic death march, but instead the process energized the party: Democratic registration surged across the country as voters lined up for the Barack and Hillary Show. The long process also made Obama a stronger nominee, a better debater, and better prepared for the presidency.

I doubt it’s going to be as beneficial for Republicans. Proportional representation for the GOP will likely reward the most committed ideologues and thus the most committed right-wing candidates. Back in mid-August, at the time of the Iowa Straw Poll, it looked like that might be Michele Bachmann. Then it was Rick Perry. And then Herman Cain. And now it’s Newt Gingrich. Three fourths of Republicans are clearly looking for someone other than Romney. And the new GOP rules can give any of the more extreme candidates enough early momentum and delegates to dispel Romney’s aura of inevitability.

The Republicans haven’t gone all the way, however. They have adopted a hybrid structure—early states must allocate their delegates proportionately, but primaries after April 1 will still be winner-take-all. That might lead the party to coalesce around a frontrunner at a late hour. Or it may end up being a scheme that sows maximum confusion.

In the words of veteran GOP strategist and former Romney aide Alex Castellanos, “Proportional representation gives minor-league conservative candidates a reason to stay in the hunt. If they can win a slice here and there, why not stay in the race, pick up a few delegates, and possibly have some sway at the convention, on policy or on the ticket?” The system, Castellanos notes, “keeps Republicans divided longer. That’s what Obama lights candles for at night.” And they say the Democrats aren’t prayerful people.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: conservatism; dailybeast; economy; gopprimary; newsweak; partisanmediashills; paulbegala; teaparty
Obama doesn't have a prayer.
1 posted on 12/05/2011 2:29:48 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All; shield
Perry's plight sidelines GOP govs (the candidate they REALLY want to support)
2 posted on 12/05/2011 2:31:13 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All

How can Obama use running against Congress as his platform if Gov. Rick Perry is the nominee - the outsider, the executive with the record?

Gov. Perry wants Congress to go back to their districts to work a real job for 6 months out of the year - cut pay in half.

How will Obama’s campaign strategy work against that message?

It would be an interesting contest.


3 posted on 12/05/2011 3:18:46 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

First the author praises Democrats for using “Proportional representation” keeping everyone happy in the party of Mr. Rogers

But it’s no good when Republicans use a similar gambit because it keeps Republicans divided longer.

Tell me again why Newsweek, Time, NY Times are having a hard time with their business model.


4 posted on 12/05/2011 4:00:35 AM PST by reefdiver ("Let His day's be few And another takes His office")
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Lookie lookie lookie............
NEWSWEEK dosent like them RascallyRepublicans.
NEWSWEEK would prefer they nominate a CentristRino.
(Think Dole, Ford, McNutt, Anderson.........)

So, what’s new?


5 posted on 12/05/2011 4:03:09 AM PST by Flintlock (Photo ID for all voters. Let the dead rest in peace.)
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To: reefdiver

IMHO Gingrich actually gain from all these debates. Early in the primary he was dead with his Tiffany debts, and misspeaks when he dealt with the MSM early on. Then the strings of debates allowed him to coherently express his thoughts and views. Granted I do not agree with all of it, but at least he has a chance to lay it out. The Lincoln style debate with Cain helped and many of his town hall type meetings worked well. The polls reflect this. He has enough moderate streaks to not scare off the RINO’s and moderates, he is conservative enough to hold onto the conservative GOP and his mild manner can attract independents in the general election. IMHO Gingrich may be the best of all the GOP runners. Cain melted down, Perry is too incoherent (ala Bob Dole) and Romney’s liberal past will make the conservative GOP reluctant.


6 posted on 12/05/2011 4:14:21 AM PST by Fee
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Paul By-Golly (aka FOREHEAD)is out from under his rock again! His good friend, Sean Hannity, will probably start giving him air time.


7 posted on 12/05/2011 4:15:41 AM PST by leprechaun9
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The Republican establishment hopes the GOP base will calm down, sober up, and nominate Mitt Romney.

Spoken like a good democRAT!

8 posted on 12/05/2011 4:17:14 AM PST by chainsaw (Sarah Palin would be my first choice. .)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

And we pay attention to Mr. “Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool!” why?


9 posted on 12/05/2011 4:19:00 AM PST by sauropod (Ann Coulter does NOT choose my presidential candidate!)
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To: Fee

Well, that all may be but people can trust Rick Perry.


10 posted on 12/05/2011 4:33:59 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Begala......
There’s a Three Holer for You!

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zm41OPvWpfs/TffTNTLRlYI/AAAAAAAAG4M/upQAqDvpo6U/s1600/03.JPG


11 posted on 12/05/2011 4:39:09 AM PST by BilLies (ABCBSNBCNN, NYTimes, WaPOSt , etc., hates your Traditional American guts!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife; All

Sounds like my idea isn’t as far-fetched as some would have us to believe:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2815662/posts


12 posted on 12/05/2011 4:58:04 AM PST by TheRobb7 (OBAMA 2012: NO TAX LEFT BEHIND)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Run Sarah Run!!!


13 posted on 12/05/2011 5:02:45 AM PST by GregB (I will follow Sarah where ever she goes!)
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To: BilLies
There’s a Three Holer for You!

We had a "three holer" at the one room school house I attended as a child (enough size selection to fit all butts).

14 posted on 12/05/2011 5:07:03 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: leprechaun9
Paul By-Golly (aka FOREHEAD)is out from under his rock again! His good friend, Sean Hannity, will probably start giving him air time.

You can bet he has a book coming out.

15 posted on 12/05/2011 5:33:52 AM PST by TangoLimaSierra (To the left the truth looks Right-Wing.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The long process also made Obama a stronger nominee, a better debater, and better prepared for the presidency.

Mercy! If he was better prepared for the presidency, thank goodness we didn't get the original less prepared!

So much for being a good debater!

16 posted on 12/05/2011 5:40:08 AM PST by lonestar (It takes a village of idiots to elect a village idiot.)
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To: lonestar

Obama, the manufactured orator and great thinker.


17 posted on 12/05/2011 5:49:22 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Uh....uh.....uh....I’v been to all 57 states.


18 posted on 12/05/2011 6:03:23 AM PST by lonestar (It takes a village of idiots to elect a village idiot.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

If Romney gets the nomination Obama will have a second term. Not one person in my wide circles of gun-toting, military, hunting and liberty-loving friends will cast a vote for Romney. The Establishment GOP’ers better take it to heart. Most Libertarian/libertarians that I know have withdrawn from that Party and have turned into Repub voters also. The greatest part of the Republican base is far right. It is not a small faction.


19 posted on 12/05/2011 6:33:41 AM PST by ExpatGator (I hate Illinois Nazis!)
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To: ExpatGator

Conservative ascendancy needs to push forward, not retreat with victory in sight.


20 posted on 12/05/2011 7:00:21 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife; RoosterRedux; jonrick46; deepbluesea; RockinRight; TexMom7; potlatch; ...
Perry Ping....

IF you'd rather NOT be pinged FReepmail me.

IF you'd like to be added FReepmail me. Thanks.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************


21 posted on 12/05/2011 7:34:57 AM PST by shield (Rev 2:9 Woe unto those who say they are Judahites and are not, but are of the syna GOG ue of Satan.)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

By “Ideologues” is meant “conservatives”. Thanks shield.


22 posted on 12/05/2011 7:46:44 AM PST by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Rick Perry is a great governor with great ideas. I once supported him, but I fear that as the nominee, he’ll lose.

Perry is the classic example of what I feel is wrong with the GOP in general: They’re horrible salesmen.

Perry can’t SELL himself, that’s the problem. He’s NOT stupid, by any means, but comes across as a bumbling fool to the non-conservative voting populace. I don’t know if he has the ability to overcome that.


23 posted on 12/05/2011 7:53:47 AM PST by RockinRight (If you're waiting to drink until you find pure water, you're going to die of dehydration.)
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To: RockinRight

I do not subscribe to your negatives.

Perry’s conservatism and his record are stellar.

And why, when challenged in the 2010 Texas Primary by the Bush-Rove-Hutchison money-muscle establishment machine — Perry came from 20 pts back and rolled to victory 20 pts ahead.

But thanks for your opinion. Everyone has one.


24 posted on 12/05/2011 8:00:45 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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