Well, it is Monday and others in the RIGHT blogopshere have started to weigh into this ANGST:
If this ends up happening, it becomes a HUGE gamble for these groups. Let’s face facts. A third party nominee isn’t going to win the presidency so if social conservative leaders get behind a “to be announced” candidate, you very well could have millions of Evangelicals voting for that candidate as a “protest” vote against Giuliani. That could leave Hillary Clinton with a straight path to the presidency. Is the calculation here that a pro-choice, pro-gay rights GOP leader in Giuliani is worse than Hillary Clinton? It seems like this is about making a statement of purity more than anything else.
The problem with the Christian Right is that they have consistently made these threats in the past and have always dropped the idea when they started counting numbers. The groups have significant influence in the Republican Party because of their ability to organize and contribute, but their influence outstrips their actual size. Forming a third party would set them back at least a generation, and it would push Republican politics away from their agenda and towards the center, just when Democrats appear poised to abandon it.
The immediate effect, however, would probably be the election of Hillary Clinton to the White House. Hillary has tremendous negatives, higher than anyone seeking a first-term Presidency in recent memory. At the moment, Rasmussen has her in the best position she’s had — and that’s an anemic +6, with a whopping 46% negative. People don’t get elected with those kinds of negatives in a two-party general election … unless someone runs as a third-party candidate that drains support from the other option. It’s how Bill Clinton won in 1992, when fiscal conservatives abandoned George H. W. Bush for Ross Perot because of Bush’s tax increase in 1990.
If the Christian Right did the same by organizing a third party, they may as well write themselves off as a significant force in American politics. They have plenty of candidates to support in the primaries, including Mike Huckabee, who matches up well with their platform. If they can’t get Huckabee nominated within the system, then the faction should acknowledge that the party made a different choice and support the end result of the primary process. If they cannot do that, no one in Republican politics will ever trust them, and their influence will wane substantially.
Yesterday Salon reported about a meeting that occurred concurrently with the quarterly meeting of the Council on National Policy, a conservative organization that tries to coordinate the actions of various components of the conservative movement. The top-level story that people are taking from this is that the conservative movement organizations will walk away and try to sabotage a Rudy Giuliani campaign.
I had argued in July that the Christian Right and the conservative movement had dated Mitt Romney (really flirted) but married Fred Thompson. At least it seemed like an engagement. Between Schiavo, Thompsonâ€™s personal life, his apparent personal secularism, his positions on abortion and gay marriage, etc., the engagement is falling through. I also argued that this relationship felt strange but it had a purpose, to maintain a grip on the party apparatus…
Richard Viguerie, James Dobson and Richard Land are flirting with irrelevance in the Presidential cycle of 2008. They no longer control (if they ever did) the GOP Presidential nominee or his agenda. Rudy has NOT pandered and Fred Thompson has said he doesn’t need them. Mitt’s Mormonism is unacceptable to them.
Where does this leave the Christian RIGHT?
Left out. So, they MOAN they will take their ball and go home since they cannot get their own way with their own nominee who marches in their lockstep.
Flap says let them go. A good purging of the party post 9/11 and post-George Bush is due in any case.
Will Hillary win?
Perhaps. But, the GOP nominee will continue to capture a significant portion of Evangelical Christian voters – even without their leaders. Whatever loss comes from a third party candidacy will be votes gained from independent Catholic and non-religious voters in key electoral states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and perhaps California.
And let’s look at some polling numbers:
The Gallup Poll states that â€œit is clear that at this point, Giuliani is in a relatively solid position in the Republican nomination race despite questions about his viability given some of his more liberal issue positions. He is no worse than tied for the lead among all major Republican constituencies, including those from groups that are most likely to disagree with him on some of these issues. And among Republicans who are most likely to vote in the primary, his lead is eight points over Thompson, 32% to 24.â€
CNN/WMUR NEW HAMPSHIRE SURVEY â€“ Conducted 9/17-9/24
Mayor Giuliani FAV-UNFAV among:
Attend Church 1 or more times a week: 66%-25%
1-2 times a month: 71%-29%
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