Could Giuliani Split the GOP?

I found the idea interesting that Christian leaders threaten to abandon Republicans if Giuliani is the nominee. John Hinderaker at Power Line doesn’t think so. I can’t claim to have more information than John, but I would not be so quick to dismiss the possibility. I know that I can’t vote for Giuliani though I can only speak for myself. (Whether I am at all representative of GOP voters at large is highly debatable.) I am not always a fan of James Dobson and for me the Giuliani issue is not a simple matter of his position on abortion. The fact is that I could name three candidates among the Democratic hopefuls this year who I could vote for over Giuliani.

When I consider candidates I essentially rate them on a personal scale – I don’t try to press my criteria on other people, but I imagine that some other people do a similar thing in deciding who to support. This places candidates on a scale ranking who I would be more likely to support out of any given set of candidates. On that scale there is a line which I have decided to call the Write-In Line. Candidates falling below that line can’t get my vote no matter who they are running against. (I considered calling it the Orrin Hatch Line since I think I could vote for Orrin if he were running against Giuliani – but he’s pretty well lost my vote otherwise.) If I am voting in a contest with no candidates above that line I write in a candidate who I could vote for. Who knows how many people there are like me who just could not vote for Giuliani.

If the goal of this group in raising the option of a GOP split is to keep Giuliani from getting the nomination then their best chance would be to go one step further and choose a candidate now that they could support – I have a short list if they’re interested. I would say that they have to back someone no later than the day after the Iowa caucuses if they want to have any impact in the nomination. If they are really like me and could not vote for Giuliani then I would say that the possibility of a split is real and a Giuliani nomination could change the face of American politics.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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9 Responses to Could Giuliani Split the GOP?

  1. Hi David

    There was a big political realignment which occured in reaction to the Democratic party’s promotion of desegregation that ultimately turned the “solid south” into an area that Repubicans now dominate. At the time it was less obvious because of political inertia from long-time southern Democrats maintaining office, as well as Presidential elections being closer than they should have been because of segregationalist candidate George Wallace.

    The reality facing Republicans is there are still old-time Republicans such as Guiliani who have represented the more liberal north east who are like southern democrats in the 1960’s and 70’s. Do Republicans break ties with them? That’s a tough question. I do know, that a third party conservative candidate will undoubtedly benefit the Democratic candidate. Without Ralph Nader, Gore would have been president without a doubt.

    Personally, I always pull for the Constitutionalists because they draw votes away from the far right from Republicans. If I had any money, I might actually donate to their campaigns.

  2. David says:

    I’m sure this will come out sounding wrong, but I trust the right wing voters – those who are drawn away by Constitution candidates for example – more than I trust the hard core Republican “my party, right or wrong” voters. That is to say, I trust those who vote in conviction rather than party affiliation. This holds whether their conviction leads them to vote liberal or conservative, extreme or moderate (though I prefer the moderates – the “swing voters – over the extremists). I worry about those who just vote the party line because that’s their party. I fear for a country that would vote for “anyone but {picky your ideological nemesis}.”

    These are some of the reasons I deplore the political imbalance in Utah and the wedge-issue politics that have become so prevalent nationally.

    So all of that was not exactly on topic with your comment Obi wan. You are right that there are more than two ideologies found in this country. There are those who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. There are those who are socially conservative and fiscally liberal. The balance between numerous issues is what we try to strike when choosing our candidates and the political direction of the country.

    If there is a conservative third party candidate that will inly benefit the Democratic nominee. The Democrats lost because of Nader and learned that they had to refine what it was that unified them. If the Nader voters had all chosen to support Gore anyway – who they didn’t believe in – then the divide would have festered and given the party a false sense of what they believed.

    I think it would be better to have a split in the GOP, if there really is an ideological split with the nominee (as implied by the recent suggestion), than it would be to come to election time and vote for someone you fundamentally can’t support because “it would be horrible to let the Democrats win.”

    It’s fine to support someone you don’t agree with 100% (better than agreeing 100% based on party affiliation) but I don’t think it’s wise to vote for someone you fundamentally disagree with just because you fundamentally disagree with someone else. I am always looking to find someone to vote for, not someone to vote against.

    {End Soapbox}

  3. Reach Upward says:

    Third parties always draw votes away from the major party that is closest to their ideology. Thus, in immediate terms, third parties benefit the party most ideologically different than the third party. You cite Nader in ’00. Also check out Perot in ’92.

    But you make an interesting point when you suggest that in the long term, a third party run can strengthen the party closest to their ideology.

    Both major parties are simply alliances of groups that can put aside their differences sufficiently to focus on a few areas where they mostly agree. Intra-party struggles can help better define the areas of agreement as well as the areas of disagreement.

    The Christian Right is feeling undervalued. They have made lots of sacrifices for the GOP since coming on board in the 60s and 70s. And yet they have seen no real political success on any of their hot button issues. The fact is that the rest of the GOP alliance isn’t very interested in socially conservative issues.

    In their frustration, some leaders in the Christian Right are threatening to break the party. They might not be the biggest player in the party, but this bullying tactic is meant to send notice to the other players that the GOP would crash and burn without them. They are seeking to increase their influence, which would necessarily diminish the influence of the other groups. It’s not a tactic that makes for intra-party peace.

    I seriously doubt that a significant number of social conservatives will jump to a third party this time around. Rather, if they can’t live with the eventual GOP nominee, they will most likely just stay home. They won’t campaign for him, nor will they vote for him. But they won’t vote against him either. While this passive approach is less dramatic than forming a third party, it will produce a similar outcome.

  4. David says:

    I’m not quite sure about the distinction you are drawing between “not voting for a candidate” and “voting against a candidate.”

    In my mind voting for a minor candidate is the same as not voting for a candidate. Voting against a candidate would be to vote for a different candidate who actually had a chance to win. For example, if Gore had not been running in 2000 – pretend there was a void there, not that someone took his place as the democratic nominee – Nader would not have come anywhere near winning. He got 2% of the vote with Gore and would have garnered perhaps 30% without Gore. Most of the moderate Democrats would have voted for Bush if Gore had not been running. (Keep in mind that I am talking about 2000 not necessarily now.) The message of that 2% crowd was that they disagreed with Gore too much to vote for him.

    By contrast, Perot got almost 20% of the popular vote in 1992 and if George Bush Sr. had not been running he might have had as much as 55% of the popular vote – few of those who voted for Bush would have voted for Clinton over Perot. (Perot and Bush combined for 57% of the popular vote in 1992. And no, I am not saying that Perot would definitely have won without Bush in the race, just that he would have had a legitimate shot.) The message of this 20% crowd was that they felt they could do better than either Bush or Clinton.

    I suspect that the real ideological balance is still much as it was in 1992 with a plurality of voters who are moderate to mildly liberal and a majority of voters largely split between being primarily socially conservative, and primarily fiscally conservative. In 1992 the fiscal conservatives felt they were being ignored and voted for a third candidate. In 1996 all those who were lukewarm chose to vote with the president they knew rather than the candidate they didn’t. In 2000 George W. Bush convinced just enough people to capture the Electoral College and in 2004 there was enough uncertainty in the middle and enough effort by the conservatives to keep anyone from defecting to the unconvincing John Kerry. Now for 2008 we have the social conservatives who are feeling neglected and threatening to defect from the Republican coalition. The difference here is that if they make good on their threat to back a third candidate they are more likely to chose someone further from the center (like those who backed Nader) instead of closer to the center (like those who backed Perot).


  5. Maybe, I’m just too much of a pragmatist, but I look at three things in a candidate before I decide who to vote for.

    1- To what degree do I agree with them (I give different issues different weights based upon how important I view those issues)

    2- Are they competent to do their jobs (this is more important in administrative and local jobs than say jobs where ideology is important)

    3- Do they have a chance to win

    I don’t believe in throwing my vote away on principle unless it is here in Utah on the Presidential race where the Democratic candidate has as good a chance as the Libertarian.

    Even so, my pragmatic side has it’s limits. I’m pretty sure that if a pollster wanted to know who is going to win an election, all they have to do is ask who I’m voting for and pick the other major candidate.

  6. David says:

    You might doubt this, but my approach is much like yours. The real difference is that “#3 – Can they win” only comes in to play if, when evaluating “#1 – Do I agree,” they do not fall below the Write-In Line.

    Currently there are multiple candidates among the Democrats and multiple candidates among the Republicans who are above the write-in line. My problem is that the front runner among the Republicans falls below that line. (So does the front runner among the Democrats – for some of the same reasons.) This despite the fact that I probably align with the leading Republicans slightly more often than I do with the leading Democrats.

    Part of my frustration right now is seeing so much of the “anyone who can win” attitude among the Republicans.

  7. Politics is expensive. Before the big money donors get involved, they have to ask whether there is a potential return on investment. That is the advantage a rich candidate has over his/her rivals. They can seed their campaign with enough money to give people the impression they are electable. The biggest donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign is Mitt Romney. He’s going after the early primaries for the purpose of creating an image of him as the one with the backing.

    For those who would argue that donations don’t influence politics, as a believer in the free markets, I believe that capital will flow to where it can get it’s highest expected return taking into account all the variables of risk/return. The world of politics supports that model.

  8. David says:

    You’re absolutely right. I know lots of people who wish that donations didn’t influence politics, but I don’t think that anyone could make a credible argument that they don’t influence politics.

  9. Pingback: David Miller » Blog Archive » GOP Meltdown

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