Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Actually, Less Surprising Than You Might Imagine

What shocks Rich Lowry doesn’t seem very shocking to me at all:

The GOP Vote [Rich Lowry]

Romney won it 33-31 according to CNN exits. Even in Florida, independents were McCain’s margin of victory. Kind of incredible.

That doesn’t surprise me in the least, and here’s why.

  1. I haven’t seen a breakdown recently, but the last time I saw national data, about as many (or possibly a bit more) people self-identified as “independent” as self-identified “Republican.”
  2. So, if the Republican vote broke only marginally for Romney, and an overwhelmingly better known “maverick” like McCain has the potential to win pretty strongly even when losing some of those independent votes to Rudy.
  3. Lots of people will not vote for McCain on principle--and some of those principles are pretty good. Those people, though, tend to be either pretty far to the left (they don’t count in this exercise), strong libertarians (who seem to be a small portion of the population), and strong conservatives (who were the folks that voted for Romney). The center left and moderate conservatives, who make up a good chunk of the population, don’t have the same issues with voting McCain.
  4. This is a tough one, I think, for stronger conservatives to accept--especially inasmuch as they are running out of conservatives to root for--but Romney doesn’t have a particularly strong personality. I made a joke about him once that wasn’t entirely fair ("the GOP’s answer to John Edwards’ hair,” if I remember correctly); Romney has more substance than Edwards, which isn’t hard to achieve, but his capacity for leadership seems to hover somewhere in Edwards’ general vicinity. McCain doesn’t have a perfect conservative record, but he does have a proven capacity for leadership and a willingness to go against prevailing opinions to achieve his ends. He’s a better leader. It’s just a shame that his capabilities didn’t come in a package that conservatives can rally around.

It isn’t unusual at all that the political center and the independents would be gravitating in McCain’s direction.

Now, ask me who, in my post-Fred depression, I will be supporting. That’s a much harder question.

My cyclical Quixotic urges were fulfilled in throwing in behind Thompson for a while, so I can’t imagine even pretending to support Ron Paul’s more fringe ideas. Besides, his support has peaked: it’s amazing how much quieter the Internet is without his more vocal hordes galloping from blog to blog to defend their love. Don’t get me wrong: there are good, principled reasons to support Paul, but some of his supporters seem to mistake their principles for cause to pummel even principled opponents into submission with the power of their swarming voices.

Beyond that, Rudy is damned near the end of his run. This leaves two GOP choices, and I’m not happy with either of them.

More on that later.

For now, let’s just be happy we have something easy to address: it isn’t shocking that independent votes might be the key to winning even a Republican primary. Now, imagine how important those voters might be to winning an election against Obama.

Update: Funny. Unless it’s not. You choose.


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