Don’t rely on the Shy Tory! Explain yourself, Mitt!
Late last month a British writer named Adam Shaw, writing for the American Thinker, proposed a theory that Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan might be in much better shape against President Barack Obama than is reflected in polling data.
He argues that an early 1990s phenomenon in the United Kingdom called “the Shy Tory” factor — in which polls overwhelmingly showed Labour (liberals) candidates cruising to victory but were stunned on Election Day when the Tories (conservatives) won— might be at play.
Writes Shaw: “Since the ascension of Thatcher to Downing Street in 1979, the Tories had been presented as a nasty, evil party that wanted to destroy communities in their war against the miners, gut health care, and take money from the poor to give to the rich via the poll tax. Does this sound familiar to any Americans at all?
“While the policies of the Conservative Party were popular, the media and the screeching left had helped turn the Tory brand into a toxic one that many people didn’t want to be associated with in spite of their secret support. Therefore, when polled, the shy Tories answered Labour, but voted Conservative.”
Shaw also indicated that the Bradley Effect — “the idea that when a black or minority candidate is on the ticket against a white candidate, certain voters may lie under pressure from a pollster, worried about being seen as a racist for choosing the white candidate over the minority” — might be more of a factor this year than 2008.
While it would be nice if the former theory holds true in 2012 and the Bradley Effect not an effect at all, and that people be honest about who they’re voting for based on ideology and not race, I believe both concepts are what Republicans might seek hope from if Obama maintains his lead, as I suspect he will.
I believe Obama leads in the polls now not because of frightened voters unwilling to go on record as not supporting him, but because he’s done a so-so job at painting Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch Plutocrat, and because Romney has not highlighted a competing vision for resurrecting the country’s gloomy condition as opposed to Obama’s uninspiring message of “it’s too slow, we know, it’s not good enough, give us more time.”
Without Romney elucidating a positive conservative philosophy, the damage done by George W. Bush and his spendthrift Republican congress will remain the lasting impression voters have of truly failed conservatism: expanding entitlements without paying for them, borrowing and spending money, making it easier for the Democrats and Obama to borrow and spend even more money, which they’re doing with relish.
There was genuine outrage among voters in 2010 over Obama and the Democrats taking the country hard left with a healthcare plan that remains deeply unpopular today, and a stimulus plan that didn’t provide the lift Obama’s team said it would.
I believe a wave could effervesce and sweep parts of the country if only Romney would properly tap into it. “Repeal Obamacare, Save Medicare.” It’s a bumper sticker that gives voters reason to ditch one unpopular entitlement to rescue a woefully underfunded one. Why Romney is not making this a more central part of his campaign — it was immediately after the Paul Ryan pick but has since faded – is beyond me. Obamacare is on the ballot this year. Romney has to drill into voters’ heads that they can have the final say about whether it is enacted. Also, Obama faults Republicans for not acting on his “Jobs” bill that’s mired in Congress. This “Jobs” bill is nothing more than slightly less stimulus designed to flow into the coffers of public sector unions (striking Chicago teachers, municipal employees, etc.). It does little or nothing to rev the real engine of job growth: the private sector.
Yet, Romney fails to highlight that Obama’s plans are not new, just more government spending which is enormously unpopular on the heels of $5 trillion in new debt that helps account for the nation’s $16 trillion debt.
Nationally, Obama has a 1% to 4% lead in the polls. His margins vary in leads over Romney in swing states. Can all of these polls be wrong? I doubt it. Misleading? Certainly. Many oversample Democrats, and this tips the scale in their direction. I wonder what the polls would reflect if 9% of Republicans were always oversampled.
Republican enthusiasm is greater now than it was in 2008, and I believe more GOP-inclined voters will head to the polls on Election Day. Obama seems to have done a good job greasing the wheels with his Hopey-Changey snake oil to again agitate his base into action.
Romney cannot count on Chick-fil-A-long lines of voters magically appearing on Election Day. The Republican Party should not have to rely on theories pointing to underestimated GOP turnout as potential paths to victory.
George Will said it best on This Week last Sunday: If the GOP cannot win in this environment they should get out of politics. If Romney cannot explain why Obama’s policies have failed and why his will work, and simply relies on telling people what they already know — the economy sucks — then he will lose one of the most winnable elections in history.