GOP Convention: What Did We Learn?
While we weren’t treated to the kind of, um, “drama” that the Paul people created at the 2012 MEGOPSC, we still learned some important things about the state of their Party and the 2014 elections. In no particular order:
1) The Unity thing is real. With LePage at the top of the ticket, the GOP apparatus has been whipped into line and they are fully behind the Gov’s reelection effort. He has the base, which we’ve known for a long time.
2) The Unity thing is a problem… when you’re unified behind a flawed candidate and failed policies. I’ve said in several venues over the weekend that it’s actually the unity of the GOP that gives me a lot of hope for the fall. In other words, they have demonstrated no aptitude or appetite for reaching beyond their base vote. Looking back, this has been the LePage playbook from Day One. He has pursued very conservative policies and targeted all the GOP bogeymen. The voting demographics that they always have trouble with are still trouble for them now. Their problem is that LePage himself, and the conservative agenda as a whole, have limited appeal.
This convention merely went all-in on this strategy.
3) Dear Democrats who voted for Barack Obama: if you crossover and vote for Susan Collins, you will make the rest of us very confused. Did you see the red meat she delivered to the GOP faithful? It was all about Obama. She doesn’t support him or his agenda. The vote in 2012 wasn’t just for Obama the person; it was for Obama the President. We need that support to continue this year, too. Vote Bellows.
4) Rand Paul is nuts to think he can be the GOP nominee for President. It makes for nice copy when he prattles on about pulling back U.S. military commitments or tackling corporate welfare – but those things are non-starters among the GOP overlords. Paul may inherit the passionate following of his father, and he may have become more of a team player in the Senate, but he is a sitting duck for some doctrinaire conservative candidate with a big war chest (or billionaire patron). Don’t forget what Romney and Gingrich did to each other in 2012, and they are about as mainstream GOP as possible in this era.
Paul also highlighted one of the GOP’s major blind spots. The BDN bumped into him buying some lobster and got him talking about reaching out to new voters. The problem, though, is that they continue to think that the same old program is going to be appealing just because they reach out and explain it to someone new. It’s the get-credit-for-trying theory of political persuasion.
5) Sen. Mike Thibodeau tried to make a funny, but, in retrospect, he might want to stay away from the crayon jokes. Can anyone understand what point he was trying to make? In case you missed it, Sen. Thibodeau suggested the Mike Michaud wrote his economic development plans in crayon. It may have been a suggestion that he was doing a color-by-number thing with a standard Democratic playbook, but I can’t tell for sure. He might also have been not-so-subtly telling people that Michaud isn’t smart enough for the job, which is a weird thing for the GOP to be pushing, after so many years of chest-thumping about being anti-intellectuals. It was particularly rich coming from the guy whose principle campaign tactic is drawing the biggest signs in the state.
6) Might Santa actually deliver us Bruce Poliquin in June? I know Kevin Raye is on the Charlie Summers program, but it sounded to me like Poliquin has the right message for the GOP base.
7) In the end, it’s always about the unions, right? Fredette: if he’s elected Speaker, right-to-work will be the first thing passed. LePage: most negative campaign in history because of the unions.
8) The new GOP platform also contains some hilarity. Primarily, I’m thinking of the part that commits them to letting “science” dictate environmental regulations. Oh really? I suppose they didn’t differentiate between actual science and industry-sponsored “science,” so they did leave some wiggle room for the climate change deniers. They also have a lovely piece about how individuals are in charge of making decisions for themselves, though the drafters of that section clearly didn’t read the other sections dealing with marriage or starting a family. It must be hard for them to keep this all straight in their heads.