During the 2010 campaign season Jim Geraghty's Campaign Spot blog on National Review Online was must reading. Jim had a regular feature with a plugged-in anonymous Republican election guru he dubbed "Obi-Wan."
In their election post-mortem, Obi-Wan wrote something very important that Maryland Republicans ought to heed, if you know, we want to, at some point start winning elections. Emphasis mine.
Michael Medved said yesterday that Fiorina won the white vote by 9 percent, which is 61 percent of the total vote. But she did abysmally among Hispanics, getting only 28 percent. If she merely got to 40 percent, she wins.
Hispanic voters for a lot of reasons are nascent Republicans. But there are perception problems that need to be broken through. Those problems are not solved by doing what the consultants recommend — talking only about the economy while dancing around other issues. Our candidates need to be talking about ideas and discussing the difference between conservative and liberal philosophies. The question is one of educating voters about what those philosophies mean to them.
Yes, right, conservative candidates need to educate. Reagan was doing it all the time. People like Toomey and Rubio and Paul do it automatically. Lots of people who have normal lives and don’t focus on politics and campaigns aren’t really aware their own views are “conservative” and the Democrats are “liberal.” So, the GOP needs to be expository — it needs to turn philosophical. Never mind focusing on consultants’ tricks, just take full advantage of the “liberal vs. conservative” motif. Again, we need to make the point over the next two years that this is not about Obama but about the liberal elite that has run the Democratic party since 1972.
We were lucky this time because the Obama-Pelosi-Reid combination educated voters for us. So Scandinavian and other ethnic groups through the upper Midwest states I just mentioned remembered what they knew during the Reagan era, that Republicans are for frugal government — lower spending and taxing. They realized that when Democrats talk about fairness and the poor, this is just code for taking other people’s money and giving it to political friends and supporters in big unions or other special interests.
Which is what brings us back to California. When Hispanics — who are prodigiously hard workers and also agree with the GOP on the broad social issues — figure this out, they will also vote Republican. But somebody has to make the case.