The Right Opinion

It's Hard to Be a Republican

By Mona Charen · Nov. 13, 2012

Even when the economy is terrible, when the incumbent Democratic president has not been able to demonstrate success on job creation or growth, and even when the standard of living for Americans is declining on his watch, the country will choose a Democrat “who cares about the problems of people like me” over the Republican. That alone is enough to make Republican heads spin for some time.

Many established beliefs about presidential politics have been proved false by Obama's reelection: 1.) The idea that, when unemployment is above 7 percent, incumbents fail; 2.) The notion that incumbent presidents who are reelected always increase their percentage of the vote over their first race; 3.) The idea that late deciders break for the challenger; 4.) The belief that if majorities say the country is on the “wrong track,” the incumbent will be defeated. All wrong.

The problem with all of these so-called laws of politics is that they are based on a tiny sample. There have only been 20 presidential contests between 1936 (the year these “laws” are usually dated from) and today. That's too small a data set from which to glean reliable trends, far less iron laws of politics.

Romney made his share of mistakes. It's possible that if he hadn't alienated Hispanic voters during the primaries by his harsh anti-immigration stance, if he hadn't committed the “47 percent” blunder, and if he had more effectively rebutted the Obama smear campaign against him as a rapacious capitalist who was willing to inflict unemployment on thousands to increase his own and his shareholders' profits, he might have pulled out a victory.

But it's also true that Romney had many strengths, and Obama had many weaknesses. One lesson for Republicans in this defeat (beyond the issue, addressed by this column before, of immigration) is a familiar one that we must examine anew: The Republican message of free enterprise, self-reliance and individual initiative is a harder sell than the Democratic message of “Let the government take care of you.”

This is particularly true among single women. Romney won male voters 52 to 45 percent, but he lost women 55 to 44 percent. While Romney prevailed among married women by 53 to 46 percent, Obama's margin among single women was a crushing 68 to 30 percent. Adding to the gloom for Republicans, fewer than half of American households now feature a married couple. The illegitimacy rate is 40 percent. And the women's vote has been increasing as a share of the total for the past several election cycles. In 1980, women were 50 percent of the electorate. This year, they were 54 percent of voters.

The decline of marriage is far more than just a political problem for Republicans. Unless reversed, it may represent the unraveling of our civilization. But it is also a political problem. The Democrats' message to single women is simple: We will give you free stuff. Free birth control. Free medical care. Welfare payments for your children if you are poor. Food stamps. The whole welfare state package. Women want security above all. You don't have to be a political wizard to sell that message. If it's not Santa Claus, it's certainly Mr. Rogers. Ironically, the worse the economy gets under Democratic governance, the more single women cling to Democrats to protect them from the consequences of that failure.

A Republican has the much more demanding challenge – to persuade voters that smaller government and more free enterprise will improve their lives, their incomes and therefore their security. A good paying job is far superior to even the most lavish welfare benefits. That message has the advantage of being true, but it just may require a bit of political genius to sell it effectively.

That's not to say it cannot be done. If Republicans can find a candidate who conveys the requisite concern for the struggles of the ordinary person, whose personal story is not one of privilege, who conveys a Kempian enthusiasm for the glories of free markets and free peoples and who is pro-immigrant, that person could win. It may be Marco Rubio. There are other possible contenders: Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz and Susanna Martinez all spring to mind.

To be a successful Republican requires more brains and imagination than to be a successful Democrat. Fortunately for the party and the country, we have a deep bench.



demsarerats in Oregon said:

Re, “Women want security above all. You don't have to be a political wizard to sell that message. If it's not Santa Claus, it's certainly Mr. Rogers. Ironically, the worse the economy gets under Democratic governance, the more single women cling to Democrats to protect them from the consequences of that failure,” nails it. The way to attract female votes is to use emotional messages painting Drats as not protecting them, as in
Only a tone-deaf and wealthy Romney-type is silly enough to try to appeal to women by threatening to take away the credit card, when you’re worth a quarter billion you don’t think about the wife’s credit cards.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 1:42 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Blind sheep repeat after me, "I want, I want gimme, gimme!" Tax, spend, and borrow, Uncle Samantha, and the hell with tomorrow!" Sucking off the govmint teet, is my new life of mediocrity, and idol worship. Founding Fathers are just as disappointed, as Tea Party Conservatives, right now! LOL Mona.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 6:46 AM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

Another article trying to explain the stupidity of a liberal American public. In the end, women and the rest will get what's coming to them. The shaft.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska said:

In trying to save the Republic, Christians have all but given away the Kingdom. Time to get back to what can actually save America from the precipice upon which she teeters or from the chasm into which she's inevitably going to fall: Yahweh as our God, Jesus as Savior of the remnant, and His immutable, perfect law (Psalm 19:7-11) as the supreme law of the land.

For more regarding how Yahweh's law applies today, see "Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant" at

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Norm in Galena, Missouri replied:

Ted, once again you've hit the nail right on the head in favor of God's Perfect Law system vs. man's (We the People) failing Constitutional system.

I've read and would also recommend your Primer "The Bible vs. the U.S. Constitution" as an excellent introduction to help understand many of the Bible's concepts for True Liberty in Christ!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:38 PM

Craig in CA said:

Two comments:

A commentator talked about trying to obtain votes by insulting people - likening our Republican comments about "...getting off the plantation..." as insulting to blacks as if the Democrats tried to obtain the women's vote by talking about them "...untying the apron strings and getting out of the Republican kitchen...". He was right - our (Republican) language is perceived as insulting in many quarters. If we're EVER going to win, we need to avoid being "stuck on stupid" with offensive language.

Second point: If we EVER expect to win the majority of women's votes (you know - that majority of the electorate we're trying to have vote for our candidates), we need our candidates to stop linking things like "rape" to "God's will". We as a party come across as the wild-eyed crazy man preaching at the subway stop - someone not to be trusted with making laws. Talking like adults would be a nice first step - skilled politicians should be able to turn such a question to whether it's right and proper to leave a born alive child to die from medical neglect BY LAW - something that HUGE majorities of the electorate agrees is abhorrent.

Fellow Republicans - let's do three things:

1. Develop a better ground game.
2. Develop a better way to speak about our message.
3. Start playing political offense - identify and hammer on Democratic extremism.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Robert in Texas said:

Leviticus 19:
35 ¶Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.
36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am Yahweah your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am Yahweah.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Chris in Wisconsin said:

Sorry Mona, like so many others who either have no idea what Yahweh's perfect Law says about such matters regarding those who are to hold office of any kind or those in rebellion to Him and His Laws, you point to a course which will most certainly continue the nation to it's doom.

Voting in the "right" candidate, especially one that will "woo" the women is not the answer ("And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression." 1 Timothy 2: 14 -- It would do you and the rest of these "voting women" to take head to 11 through 15. The mandate found therein is not a suggestion.).

Nor is your suggestion regarding the female candidates you refer to (see 11 - 15, supra), nor anyone such as Bobby Jindal (" ... you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not of your brethren." Deuteronomy 17: 15), and of course that applies to the Obamanation.

Until we repent and seek Him, His Will and Kingdom On Earth, we'll stay on that course and most certainly continue the nation to it's doom.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 4:39 PM