A leading voice of Republican social conservatives in Iowa makes a surprising analogy in an op-ed piece from Tuesday’s Des Moines Register:
Jesus Christ, whom many Republicans claim to follow, summoned his followers to be either hot or cold toward Him, because a “lukewarm” commitment makes Him want to vomit. I believe this accurately reflects the mood of voters in the past several elections where Republicans have witnessed consecutive defeats.
We have followed the misguided advice of “experts” to abandon our principles and move to the middle so we can supposedly win. In essence, we have become “lukewarm” on life, on marriage, on the Second Amendment, on limited government, on balanced budgets, on lower taxes, on parental rights in educating and raising children, on faith, on family and on freedom. The net result is that voters have spit us out of their mouths. […]
The “elite” politicos and Iowa’s dwindling Republican establishment are now convening committees and strategy sessions to advise their “flock” to abandon the party’s principles and move even further to the middle if they hope to win again. The voter sees and tastes the “lukewarm” and compromising attempts to gain positions and power. The result is no trust, and the voter, like Christ, wants to throw up.
If Republicans are to win again, they must authentically embrace their core principles and effectively communicate a compelling message of bold-color conservatism that inspires faith, family and freedom.
That is no fringe politician talking. It’s Bob Vander Plaats, a businessman from northwest Iowa who ran for the 2002 gubernatorial nomination, was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2006, and chaired Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign in Iowa.
If you click the link and read the whole piece by Vander Plaats, you won’t find any opinion poll data backing up his assertions about why Iowa voters have been rejecting Republicans.
National polling shows that the electorate as a whole thinks Republicans lost the 2006 and 2008 elections because they were too conservative. At the same time, Republicans are more likely to reach the same conclusions as Vander Plaats: their party is losing because its candidates have not been conservative enough.
I’ll be honest: I’d be happy to see the Republican Party of Iowa embrace Vander Plaats’ faith-based political strategy. I suspect that’s a path toward further losses for the GOP in 2010.
Quite a few GOP legislative candidates who put social issues front and center in their campaigns lost last Tuesday.
Vander Plaats does not name any specific candidates whose moderation allegedly made voters want to throw up. One who drew a lot of fire from the social conservative crowd was Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Republican candidate for the second Congressional district. She was a strong candidate, in my opinion, and it would be ridiculous to argue that she lost for not being conservative enough. This district has a partisan index of D+7. No Republican in the whole country represents a Congressional district with that much of a Democratic lean. Mike Castle of Delaware is the only one who comes close, and he is not a religious conservative firebrand.
The Vander Plaats piece is further evidence of the deep split in the Republican Party of Iowa. It won’t be easy to heal under any circumstances, but especially not if social conservatives insist on driving their party off a cliff.