Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We Showed How It's Done

There has been no small amount of chatter in both the mainstream press and the blogosphere about the strength with which the Tennessee Republican Party dominated Election Night here. Many in the press have alluded to the notion that racism played a large role in the result, one in which the Republicans gained control of the General Assembly for the first time in the lives of everyone reading this print.

Both the media and bloggers on the other side of the aisle have busied themselves with theories that are at best half-true and at most are an outright fabrication. The Republicans actively worked to gain seats in the Legislature this year, knowing that doing so meant control of the appointment of constitutional officers, and an overhaul of State Government that is long overdue. Where the national race did impact the outcome was the scope of the Republican gains. Realistically, a lot of us didn't expect to control both houses of the Legislature for another two years.

There were things which the Tennessee Republican Party did which contributed to the victory here that the national party refused to do. One was to go on the attack against Barack Obama and to link Democratic candidates to Obama. This method was unbelievably successful, and proved that there was a strong movement against Obama in the general population which the McCain campaign refused to capitalize on. Instead, McCain's campaign left many voters not merely with the impression that there wasn't much difference between McCain and Bush, but that there was little philisophical difference between McCain and Obama, so why not give the Democrat a chance?

Perhaps the most important thing which Tennessee Republicans did was to stay on message. Unlike the national campaign, Republicans here did not attempt to change their tune in order to compensate for an unpopular Republican administration or the rotten economic times in which the country finds itself. Lower taxes, regulatory relief, and less government intervention remained the answer to the economic crisis. At the national level, John McCain was supporting bailouts of hundreds of billions of dollars for banks and investment houses which have behaved irresponsibly, as did his Democratic opponent. Those of us who are politically nuanced might see some difference between McCain and Obama on the implementation phase, but the average voter wouldn't see much difference at all.

John McCain paid lip service to the sanctity of life and the institution of marriage, but one could tell that he was uncomfortable dealing with social issues. The Vice Presidential candidate that he chose largely to appease the party's social right was muzzled, and it was after the election that people really began to get a taste of the reality that she wasn't just a dumb Alaska hick-an impression the media fostered and the McCain campaign allowed to remain in place without much of a fight. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, Republicans didn't run from the social issues, but ran on them, touting the pro-life cause as a reason to put them in the majority, and reminding voters of the success with the marriage amendment to the Tennessee Constitution two years earlier. Tennessee Republicans did not make social issues the center of their campaign, but they didn't need to, since the GOP in the Volunteer State made it abundantly clear where the party stood on the culture war with little room to move.

The results? A Republican legislative majority for the first time since Reconstruction, a 21-point landslide for a less-than-popular Republican presidential candidate in a year when the sitting Republican administration is unpopular even in Tennessee, and the re-election of a center-right Republican Senator (and former Governor) with massive numbers, and 21 percent of the African-American vote.

Tennessee Republicans showed the rest of the country what Republicans need to do to win elections.

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At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:22:00 AM, Blogger N.S. Allen said...

You're falsely generalizing from the TN population to the U.S. population, really.

TN, after all, was polling incredibly poorly for Obama, from the very beginning - there were points at which various polling averages had TN stronger for Obama than TX or many states in the Deep South.

Now, that doesn't mean that TN was rough for Obama because Tennesseans are racist or whatever else. But it does mean that taking a population that was giving McCain gigantic leads from the start and saying that it proves something about a population that was doing anything but that is just silly.

(Likewise, the huge base support that McCain had from TN tells us that it's unlikely that the Republican wave in the state will hold. Everyone knew that the biggest race on the ticket was over in TN, so Dems had a good reason not to turn out. Those places where they still did so, moreover, were likely to be places where Dems were already strong, that is, where Republicans likely weren't competing for their pick-ups. In a different election climate, it's likely that the Republican vote would be significantly smaller and the Dem vote significantly larger.)

At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 7:41:00 AM, Blogger MRMacrum said...

That you think Sarah Palin now seems to be more than she was during the election apparently did not make it here. And up in Alaska also. Apparently she has lost 12 percentage points or so among her fellow Alaskans since coming home. She is an empty suit the Republican Party would be well advised to dump as soon as possible.

At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 9:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your living in a bubble. Tennessee is NOT a microcosim of the USA at large. What seems t have worked in TN would not work elsewhere.


At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 7:27:00 PM, Blogger the rep said...

I love when libs try to tell us that everything that just worked should be thrown out the window.

Wow, If you cant trust their opinion then who can you trust?

I think you made a pretty good assement.

At Thursday, November 27, 2008 11:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that had the nation at large thought that the now President-Elect was not a good choice from the onset of the campaign, then those same Tennessee Repub tactics would have worked nationally as McCain would not have had to constantly re-adjust his messsage to try to shake things up. The media only asks Sarah Palin questions, her answers are what make her look stoopid.

Tennessee Presidential Polls '08(link)



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