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November 19, 2012

GOP Strongly Considering Intervention In Primaries To Prevent Another Akin

In 2010, the GOP attempted to thwart a perfectly electable candidate -- Marco Rubio -- to push a moderate who was also electable, but who was also, unfortunately, Charlie Crist. This produced a lot of blowback (I remember going nuclear on this site), and the GOP decided to stay out of primary contests more or less entirely.

They're rethinking that now, and I think they should. I don't want them protecting incumbents from worthy challengers, and I don't want them always championing the more-moderate candidate on the theory that more-moderate candidates are more electable.

On the other hand, there does seem to be some dysfunction in the primary process. I think the electorate has decided that "electability" is a dirty word, and, given a choice of several contenders, almost goes out of its way to nominate the weakest possible candidate. I do think that the dirty-word of "electability" has to be given consideration in primaries. I am not of the belief that defeats are filled with nobility.

The GOP is trying to figure out some kind of half-step way to keep out of these things, while also getting into them a bit to prevent further Akins, Mourdocks, O'Donnell's, and Angle's.

The link is to Commentary, though these quotes are from Politico:

The first-term Moran, who was elected to the spot last week by his Senate colleagues, tapped incoming Texas freshman Sen. Ted Cruz as a vice chairman for grass roots and outreach. The plan, according to party leaders, is to employ Cruz’s tea party star power to help win over activist groups that may be wary of the NRSC and help unify the GOP behind a single candidate in crucial Senate races.

Eh, that'll help some.

In an interview, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the NRSC chairman in the past two cycles, said the party needs to ask itself whether the goal is to prop up the most conservative candidate or push through the most conservative candidate that can win a general election. He said the party is reevalating its approach.

Jim DeMint speaks of "training" candidates to speak in "sanitized soundbites," but I'm not sure if it's just a case of telling people to fudge and maybe lie a little.

One problem in our primary contest right now is that there is no pushback from the middle against the right. Now, hear me out on this: If someone in a debate had turned to Akin and asked about the exception for rape, we would have heard about this, possibly, far earlier in the process, and voters could have adjusted their vote at that point. However, because the primaries are now largely a competition to get to the furthest right (or to appear that way, at least), no one asks a question like this. To ask the question would be to brand oneself as a moderate, and thus lose votes.

But that's the only way to actually flush someone's edgier opinions out, to question them about those opinions. Otherwise, the question never gets asked in the primary...and then three days after a primary a reporter asks it, and there you go.

It's not that I want the moderate to win these things. (Although if a candidate is simply too conservative to get elected, then yes, I'd support the moderate.) It's that normally in politics there is something of a struggle between wings, a debate, an airing of distinctions between candidates, and if everyone is going to posture as The Most Conservative Candidate we're not going to actually find out much about the candidates -- like who is actually moderate posing a conservative, who is conservative and electable, and who is aggressively conservative and possibly unelectable even in a red state like Missouri.

What I'm really talking about is the primaries as a method of gaining information about the candidates -- something I think which has been missing.

One possible way to extract information from candidates (who have an interest in not providing it) is to have at least one debate in every primary contest moderated, by, get this, conservatives. Conservatives understand conservative politics. Liberal reporters do not. (And questions asked by liberal reporters tend to be discounted by conservatives, as conservatives think they are hostile forces simply trying to undermine conservatism, which they are, of course.)

But if every cycle at least one debate was moderated by a 1-3 member panel of genuine conservatives attempting to flush out distinctions between candidates, the voters would 1 hear their positions and the distinctions between them and 2 better trust the information elicited as being prompted by a sympatico, rather than hostile and subversive, questioner.

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posted by Ace at 12:30 PM

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