Saturday, September 01, 2012
Romney's New Strategy - Whites Only
I have always thought that was a dangerous strategy for a couple of reasons. In this computer age, it's much harder to instantly change a candidate's image since all of his stances took during the primary can instantly be recalled and used to make him look like a flip-flopper (an image that already dogs Romney too much). Second, his base voters still don't completely trust Romney, and a move to the center could cost him as many votes as it would gain (if it gained any to begin with).
It now looks like Romney and his campaign managers have now realized that "move to the center" strategy won't work. They are casting their hopes in a new direction -- appeal only to whites and get the base out in droves. It started with the choice of Paul Ryan to be the vice-presidential candidate. There's simply no way to move to the center with Ryan in tow. If anything, Ryan drags Romney even further to the right.
The idea now is that with a very good GOTV effort and their subliminal appeals on race (like their attacks on welfare), they can get enough white voters to the polls (and win enough of the white vote) to out vote Obama's very large appeal among minorities. Of course, this assumes that most whites will abandon the president and the Republican teabagger base will show up and vote for Romney. Neither of those is a certainty, but it looks like that's what they are now counting on.
In a recent post, Nate Silver (a very well-respected poll analyst) also thinks this is now the Romney strategy. And he wonders if it can be successful. Here is some of what he has to say on his own blog, FiveThirtyEight:
The argument for a base strategy is something like this: there are very few undecided voters left, and hardly anything has moved the polls. With the election being so close, the contest will come down to turnout. So get your voters as motivated as possible.
A risk for Mr. Romney, however, is that even with a favorable turnout, the Republican coalition may have become slightly too narrow for him to win, given that the party is struggling with Hispanics and other minority voters. . .
Mr. Obama’s share of the white vote will probably not be as strong this year as it was in 2008 (when it wasn’t all that strong to begin with). There is also evidence that the Republican base is more motivated to vote than the Democratic one.
So suppose that the turnout demographics this year look like 2004, when 77 percent of the electorate was white. Furthermore, suppose that Mr. Romney receives the same proportion of the white vote that George W. Bush did in 2004.
However, we’ll assume that Mr. Obama does retain one advantage from 2008. Although fewer minorities turn out, those that do vote for him in the same proportions as 2008, meaning that he gets about 95 percent of the African-American vote, and about two-thirds of the vote from Hispanics, Asians and other racial minorities.
These assumptions yield a very close election — but Mr. Obama wins the popular vote. Specifically, he wins it by about 1.7 percentage points.
Interestingly, that is almost exactly the margin by which Mr. Obama leads Mr. Romney among surveys of likely voters right now. . .
Turning out your base may not be a sufficient strategy if your base has become too narrow. In 2004, Mr. Bush had an excellent base turnout — but he also captured about 40 percent or 45 percent of the Hispanic vote, a share that Mr. Romney is unlikely to reach. Without that relatively strong performance among Hispanics, the election would have been a tossup.