Right Opinion

Voters Support Conservative Values

Why the exit polls give reason for hope.

Arnold Ahlert · Nov. 10, 2012

Now that the election is over, a bit of post-mortem analysis is in order. Before getting into the details, one salient reality should be noted: America was, and remains, a deeply divided nation. And there is more than a little irony attached to six billion dollars worth of election spending that, in the end, did nothing more than maintain that status quo: the presidency and the Senate remain in Democratic hands, while the House remains Republican.

Breitbart News and Judicial Watch teamed with Public Opinion Strategies to conduct an election night survey. 800 people were contacted and, unlike most other surveys, this one included contacting people on their cells phones (30 percent) as well as landlines (70 percent). This is important, given today’s technology. Many of the less accurate surveys were likely skewed, not so much by over- or under-representation according to party affiliation, but by too much reliance on contacting people by landline. Many Americans no longer have a landline and, barring something unforeseen, the number of cell phone-only users is likely to keep increasing. Breitbart, et al., had a D+3 skew to their respondents, well within the margin of error for national exit polls, that skewed D+6.

To begin with, 71 percent of the respondents agreed, and 49 percent “strongly agreed,” with the following statement: "The larger the size of government the more opportunities it creates for possible corruption.“ 85 percent were concerned and 53 percent were "very concerned” about the corruption in Washington, D.C. Respondents gave a slight edge to Democrats over Republicans as the party more likely to clean up that corruption, 37 percent to 34 percent. In other words, the best rating either party gets still leaves 63 percent of Americans convinced neither party is capable of doing the right thing. Real Clear Politics puts an exclamation point on that reality: in the month leading up to the election, a whopping 75 percent of Americans disapproved of the job Congress was doing.

Yet as poorly as Americans view Congress, even more disapproval is directed at the media. 77 percent of voters agreed with this statement: “The press is more likely to favor one candidate for office over another at the expense of their journalistic objectivity.” Unsurprisingly, 92 percent of Republicans were on board with that assessment, yet even 58 percent of Democrats thought the media showed bias.

Breitbart further noted, and a quick Google search confirmed, that much of the media, both liberal and conservative, are convinced that the Republican party must embrace immigration reform, or it is headed towards electoral oblivion. Yet “reform” is an ambiguous term, as revealed when the survey posed the following question: "Would you favor or oppose a law requiring local law enforcement to verify the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally?“ 61 percent would favor such a law, while 34 percent would disapprove. Hispanics were another story: 58 percent opposed such a law, while only 40 percent were in favor.

An equally loaded word is amnesty. Breitbart’s survey reveals that 40 percent were in favor, and 37 percent opposed, to "President Obama’s recent immigration policy (as they understood it).” Understanding may be the key. The left derides the right defining as "amnesty" a policy that grants two-year work permits to illegal immigrants between 16 and 30, who came to the U.S. as children, and have since led law-abiding lives. Yet those permits are renewable. What the left really objects to is the reality that when Americans are asked if they favor amnesty, it’s a losing proposition: an exit poll commissioned by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), also of 800 Americans, reveals that 52 percent want immigration laws strengthened, compared with just 31 percent who support legalization of people here illegally.

The Breitbart survey also explored the issue of vote fraud. Despite the American Left’s disingenuous effort to conflate the issue of photo ID with voter suppression, Americans weren’t buying it. Fully 70 percent believe vote fraud is a problem, and 76 percent think voters “should be required to show a government issued photo identification before being allowed to vote on Election Day.” And in spite of Attorney General Eric Holder’s ham-fisted efforts to turn photo ID into a racial issue, 66 percent of blacks, and 74 percent of Hispanics approve of photo ID, along with 59 percent of Democrats overall.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the survey is the breakdown of voters referred to as “those who depend on federal assistance.” Of the 23 percent surveyed who identified themselves as such, 46 percent voted for Mitt Romney, and 51 percent for President Obama.

Regarding the survey’s results, a couple of conclusions were offered. Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, sees an electorate that is "closely divided on who our nation’s political leadership should be,“ but one that retains "strong voter support for core conservative values: limited, honest and transparent government; the rule of law approach to illegal immigration; and strong election integrity measures, namely voter ID.” Larry Solov, CEO and President of Breitbart News Network, believes that the Republican Party’s failure to convince voters that they are “the better vehicle for their conservative values and policy preferences…requires a significant re-branding of the Republican Party for a new era.”

With all due respect to Mr. Solov, that last bit is nonsense. The Republican party’s problem isn’t “branding.” The problem is a steadfast refusal to offer the electorate a clear-cut – and conservative – alternative to Democrat progressive/socialism. Furthermore, the old-guard Republican leadership is apparently incapable of understanding that, while George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” won him two elections, the resultant tsunami of irresponsible Republican spending thoroughly alienated a substantial number of Americans. And as the last two presidential latest elections demonstrated, millions of them were potential Republicans: Bush received 62 million votes in 2004, McCain received nearly 60 million votes in 2008, and Mitt Romney got only 57 million votes in 2012. Thus, despite the reality that Barack Obama got 10 million fewer votes this time around than he got in 2008, he was still able to win the election.

In short, Republicans need to stand for something other than a watered-down version of Democratic ideology. Furthermore, they must be willing, not just to endure the inevitable slings and arrows aimed at them by the media, but stand tall and firm for conservative convictions. When confronted by the media, far too many GOPers sound like they are apologizing for their beliefs, a remarkably unseemly reality in and of itself. In the context of a public overwhelmingly disgusted by media bias, it is an unconscionable capitulation – one many Americans instinctively recognize.

That’s not a branding problem. It’s a lack character of and core convictions problem, one that won’t be fixed by emulating Democratic ideology in order to satisfy a hostile media, or placate their Democratic opponents. Conservative stalwart Mark Levin explains why. “We conservatives, we do not accept bipartisanship in the pursuit of tyranny. Period.”  Republicans need to embrace that message, or they are indeed headed for oblivion for the simplest of reasons: one Democratic Party is more than enough.

Arnold Ahlert is a columnist for FrontPage Magazine.