Midterm Election: What Just Happened?

An all-star panel discusses what to expect in 2016 and beyond at Restoration Weekend.

Below are the video and transcript to the panel discussion “Midterm Election: What Just Happened?” which took place at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 20th Anniversary Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 13th-16th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Richard Baehr: Let me start in response a little bit to what Ben said last night where he broke down the urgent versus the necessary. Obviously, election matter because the last six years I think have done real damage, and we lost very badly in 2006, both the House and the Senate. 2008 it got even worse. Also lost the presidency and terribly wide margins for the Democrats in both the House and the Senate. Made a comeback in 2010, moved back 2012, made some progress again this year, and now we have control of the Congress, but in the two years we have left with Obama in the White House, in a sense we have a blocking action. We’ll have some discussion later about what we can achieve positively and how clever we can be, but losing elections really does matter and yes, changing the culture matters too, and that’s a longer-term proposition, but we really can’t afford to lose the next presidential election and then have essentially the judiciary locked up for the next 25, 30 years under the control of the Democrats as well as the political election cycle.

Start with the big issue of whether the Republicans, based on what happened this year, can win a presidential election, and this comes down to what I call the demographic argument, and I want to throw out a comparison of two presidential elections, 1988 and 2012. 1988 was the last presidential election a Republican won when most of the media and the Democrats thought the Republicans had a lock on the Electoral College. George Herbert Walker Bush beat Michael Dukakis 40 states to 10, 426 electoral votes to 112, won by 8 percent in the popular vote, 54 to 46, but the interesting thing is, if you look at the breakdown between the votes of white voters and nonwhite voters in that election, Bush won by 20 percent among white voters and lost by 66 percent among non-white voters. In 2012 you have exactly, exactly the same breakdown in terms of white voters and non-white voters. Romney won by 20 percent among white voters and lost by 66 percent among non-white voters. The difference is in 1988 whites were 86 percent of those who voted in the presidential election and in 2012 they were 72 percent. When you change 14 percent and you take away a 20 percent margin among those 14 percent, a positive margin for your side, and replace it with a 66 percent margin for the other side, those 14 percent produced a 12 percent shift in margin. Instead of an 8 percent victory for Bush over Dukakis, Obama beat Romney by 4 percent. All right? Every 1, 2 percent shift has that impact at this point, assuming the numbers stay the same.

Now, the good news is the Republicans are improving their performance slightly among white voters. They won by 22 percent in 2014, and they did substantially better among minority voters. Instead of losing by 45 percent among Hispanics, they lost by roughly 26, 27 percent. They almost broke even among Asian voters after losing that group by 45 percent in 2012. The exit polls showed they won among Native Americans. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but I think that may be some of the massaging that Pat Caddell talked about. The African Americans who voted 96 to 3 in 2008 for Obama and 93 to 6 in 2012 this time in the congressional elections was 89 to 10. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is a big deal. When George Bush was elected in 2004, the black vote was 88 to 11. That’s a huge difference from 96 to 3 or 93 to 6. All right? In fact, in 2004 to 2008 Bush won by 3 million votes, Obama won in 2008 by 9½ million votes. That’s a 12½ million shift in margin. Half of it, half of it was in increased turnout, substantially increased turnout among African Americans and the huge victory margin they gave of 93 percent margin as opposed to 77. Okay?

The Obama team knew what they were doing. They knew who would vote for them, and they got them registered, and they brought them to the polls. That’s a good thing they did for their candidate. All right? They knew who their voters were, and they got them to register, and they got them to vote, and they had the mechanics to monitor who was voting on election day and who hadn’t, and getting to the votes with early voting and so on. Okay? Republicans did better in the ground game this time, but still probably not up to where we need to be to win a presidential election.

So what were the demographics? I mean, if you think about it for a second, last year in the United States, actually for the last two years, 50 percent of the live births went to whites, 50 percent to non-whites. Let’s assume you look 30, 40 years out and you assume we have a country where the white vote goes for 22 percent. Remember, these are all citizens; they’re all born here. 22 percent for the Republican and the non-white vote, which is 50 percent, goes by 50, 55 percent to the Democrats. You balance those out, you average them out, what do you have? California. The nation has become California in terms of its electoral mix. What if you get the 2014 numbers, which are better. Republicans did better among whites. They won by 22 percent. They lose among minorities by say 45 to 50 percent. Then you get Oregon. Or maybe Minnesota. Okay? You got a shot in a good year, but doesn’t look very good.

The good news is the shift in the birth rate is not reflected in the shift in the mix of those who are voting to the same extent. Hispanics were 8 percent in 2006, they were 8 percent in 2010, they were 8 percent of the vote in 2014. Given that they are by far the fastest-growing group in America, that suggests that even with the Hispanic vote being obviously a pro-Democratic vote, if that vote grows much more slowly than is anticipated and grows to 10 percent, 12 percent, 13, and Republicans can keep their losses to 20 percent, you do not have the demographic nightmare which was forecast for the Republican Party in a book in 2002 by John Judis and Reed Teixeira, who called it the emerging demographic majority for the Democrats because of A) growing minority vote and B) growing percentage of white voters who are college educated who are more open and receptive to Democrats than non-college-educated white voters are who are the Republicans’ strongest base.

Turns out that white college-educated voters move from election to election and can get disgusted if they think their taxes are going up and their services are going down or if they see things that they’re unhappy about, so it’s not a lost cause, but it would be silly not to recognize some of the trends that are underway in American society. This country is changing faster demographically than any country in Europe, and we’ve had books by Mark Steyn and others talking about how Europe is gone and it’s going to be 50 percent Muslim and those countries are going to disappear. The United States’ demographics is changing much faster than any of those countries, and that’s with a replacement birthrate here at almost 2.1. We’re just a little bit below that. In Europe they’re much below that. They’re bringing in people. Their actual native population is declining.

So this is a shift and it’d be silly – Republicans have to do better with all groups. That’s the message I’d have, and do better with all groups means less pandering and more having a national American message, which is exactly I think what Pat Caddell was talking about today. I could not agree with him more. If the Republican Party simply is part of the governing majority and it’s a little bit less liberal than the other party, you sort of have the political parties in Great Britain. They are all locked in, essentially, to the same situation.

Now, let me talk again: Some good news this year in the elections. Republicans, the charge was, well, it’s a favorable nap in the Senate. You had all these Senate seats in red states that Romney had won big. There were 36 governors’ races, and 22 of them were in states that Obama had carried. Republicans did not win red state governorships. They won in Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Maine. I have a summer home in Maine. One of the biggest wins of the night for me, because there’s probably no more detested character on the left than the governor of Maine, who is an abused child, one of 18 children. You talk about a rags to riches story. Look up Paul LePage on Wikipedia and read his life story, and it will match what you heard before in the previous talks about someone making something of their life and dealing with a tough situation and overcoming it. Maine Public Radio had a suicide watch out for all of their listeners on election night. They called for grief counselors, but unfortunately the grief counselors were all their listeners. They had to bring them in from Northern New Hampshire. There were seven Republican grief counselors in Northern New Hampshire.

Anyway, in the House of Representatives, I disagree a little bit with Pat, but for the most part he’s correct. Republicans probably left six, seven, eight seats on the table this year, but their maximum, given essentially the current mix of the populations and how people vote, is probably not a lot higher than 260, and they will probably get to 248, 249, 250 after those last few recounts are done in Arizona and New York, California, and you have the two runoffs in Louisiana. By the way, Louisiana Senate, first poll on the runoff, Cassidy is 16 points ahead of Mary Landrieu, so say goodbye to Mary.

There is something to having a national message, if you’re a national political party, and the Republicans again, why I say there’s sort of a limit, 260, 265, you’re not going to do much better. The Republicans did a great job redistricting, which is why winning the governorships in 2018, winning state legislative seats in 2020 is so crucial to maintaining that for the next ten years. I mean, in Ohio, Republicans have 12 of the 16 House seats. They have 13 of the 18 House seats in Pennsylvania, 9 or 14 in Michigan, 9 of 13 in North Carolina. Those are not deep red states. I mean, essentially what’s happened is the Democrats want their minority voters concentrated, and the Republicans cooperate, so they give them seats where Democrats had enormous numbers of wasted votes. They win by 80 to 20 in their seats. Republicans win a lot of other seats by 5545, 6040. All right?

So, and I want to say this very clearly. For the purposes of what you’re going to hear over the next few days, I’m not saying the Republicans are the good guys, but they’re our side at this point, and it’s our side versus the other side, and I would prefer our side wins. Okay? And getting the right people on our side obviously matters, and getting better candidates for our side matters, but we did well this year as a party and conservatives are in better shape for the Republicans having won control of both Houses than if they had remained in a minority on the other side.

One last thing. You hear a lot of talk about this blue wall. Republicans can’t win the White House. They can’t win the White House because the Democrats have won enough states in the last six presidential elections to get 242 electoral votes. All right? So Republicans gotta win pretty much every toss-up to be able to get elected President. Well, Republicans were 206 this time. Add Florida, Virginia, and Ohio you get to 266. Those are three states Republicans have to win to win the presidency. If they can’t win those three states they’re not going to win the presidency. All right? But then you have a bunch of other states. There are seven or eight states from Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, which was only a 5 percent state, New Hampshire, Colorado. Republicans can put together a win nationally at the White House and for once they’ll be running against a candidate who may be older than the Republican, and the Republicans may not be nominating someone who ran before and lost, which has been six of their last seven nominees. All right? That seems to be how you get nominated for Republican. Run once and lose. So put together a younger candidate, someone with a fresh face, someone with ideas and I don’t think 2016 is a dead issue. Thank you.

Ron Radosh: This election, the midterm election, was not a vote for conservatism or the Republican Party. It was a vote against President Barack Obama, that the whole populace and the America people were really fed up with, and look at the minuses that Obama had: the handling of the Ebola crisis, the handling of Obamacare, the lies about Obamacare, his entire foreign policy collapse where his whole approach to the Middle East has gone up in flames. Everyone can see that Obama, in virtually domestic and foreign policy, I would say he’s actually the worst president that we’ve had certainly in the 20th century on. I think history will show, if the liberals on the left stop writing history and get some conservatives in there, at least, that Obama will be in the middle or on the bottom and nowhere near the top, as the greatest president, as a good president. He’s not in the ranks of an FDR or a Lincoln or a Reagan. He will be at the bottom.

So this midterm election really should come as no surprise. The presidency is something very, very different, and here’s what I think the problem is. The Republicans have to have a few different things if they are going to win. First, they have to understand that they must get votes from and appeal to the white working class, young people, Hispanics, African Americans. They have to broaden their approach and realize that they have to make inroads in groups that traditionally have not voted Republican in a long, long time. They can make these inroads, but to do that the Republicans have to have the message that they are a Big 10 party. They are not going to impose an ideological uniformity where if you don’t have either the most conservative position or if you disagree on tactics with some conservatives, that you are therefore not a conservative and not a Republican. They have to realize that everyone is not going to agree on every issue within the Republican Party, and the party has to begin trying to change its message to appeal to some of the groups whose votes they need.

Now, here is where Rand Paul sees part of the picture. Now I’m an opponent of Rand Paul. I think he would be a disaster. I think he’s trying to hide it by calling himself a realist, but he has an isolationist or a non-interventionist position very close to that of his father. That would be a disaster for America as well as the Republican Party. But the one thing Rand Paul has understood has to be done is a broad outreach to African Americans showing that the Republican Party has something to offer the African American community. In fact, has a great deal more to offer them than the Democratic Party, whose Great Society programs have collapsed and have proved to be an utter failure. So Rand Paul understands that. Secondly, Rand Paul has been making a great outreach to young people, and young people are attracted to a lot of his libertarian message. I don’t agree, again, with all of the libertarian message or proposals of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, but Paul is reaching them and getting the big turnouts on campus because he understands the need for a new kind of message and reconsideration of old views.

Now, let me raise as an example here, the attitude towards gay marriage. Social conservatives have, for reasons that I respect, drawn a strong case against gay marriage as being good for society. My friend Robbie George, the Princeton professor of politics and perhaps the nation’s leading social conservative, has made a compelling case against gay marriage. But as I said to them, the tipping point is over. It’s a done deal. None of your arguments, as good as you and people who agree with you make them out to be, it’s over. The fight has been lost. You can’t change the fights that have been lost. There have been polls taken of young Republicans. I think a poll I read said that about 80 percent of young Republicans who consider themselves conservatives support gay marriage. The tide has changed. If the Republican Party can’t come out for gay marriage because they have to hold the party together, at least they can unite and work in areas in which both factions of the party agree to end discrimination against gay people. That has to be an opening in that position and a shift, or the Republican Party is going to lose young Republicans and young conservatives as well. I think that’s a hard truth, and it has to be accepted.

Secondly, let me give you another example, and here I’m going to quote from Michael Gerson’s recent column in the Washington Post about John Kasich. Now John Kasich has done tremendous things. Here’s what Gerson writes, and I’ll ready the quote. Kasich, he writes, deserves the award for the best performance in a battleground state. Yet Kasich won a majority of union voters, three-fifths of female voters, a majority of voters under the age of 30, two-thirds of Independents, and one quarter of African American voters. That is an incredible statistic for a real conservative. Now let’s say hypothetically John Kasich or someone who has his kind of positions got to be the Republican nominee. Are conservatives going to stand against such a person merely because he moved in one direction other Republican conservative governors did not move? That is, accepting the expansion of Medicaid and accepting the government funds to do that while other conservatives who were governors voted against it and stood firm against that? Kasich believes, right or wrong, that a program exists to help the poor who deserve help for health insurance, that that was a necessary step. In other words, he dissented from traditional conservative positions on one issue. To a lot of conservatives, that makes Kasich beyond the pale. I think you can’t do that. For a party that wants to broaden its appeal, it has to agree that not everyone is going to agree with what most people think are conservative principles. On one or another specific issue a conservative can feel a different approach has to be taken, even if it goes against the sentiment or the viewpoint of other conservatives. We have to accept that kind of diversity and try to understand why someone like a John Kasich, who is a conservative, disagrees and does something else in his own state. So there’s that to consider.

Secondly, let me finish with this thought. I think that one also has to stop demanding all or nothing. I think some of the arguments coming from the Ted Cruz faction or from Cruz himself of the Republican Party, and you heard Ted here last year. He’s a very intelligent man, brilliant intelligence. Both Robbie George and Alan Dershowitz said he was the best student they ever had, but I think Ted Cruz is wrong in a lot of his tactics, making extreme tactics the equivalent or the mark for being a conservative. Cruz has been making some noise recently about maybe we should close down the government again and not accept certain things that Republican leadership seems to be accepting. I think that’s wrong and dangerous.

Now, let me quote one conservative who said this. If you read Commentary Magazine you saw it in the cover story by Peter Wehner, and I forget who coauthored it. I think it might be Yuval Levin. But they have this quote from a conservative leader, who said, “True believers on the Republican right prefer to go off the cliff with flags flying rather than take half a loaf and later come back for more.” Now you know who said that? Anybody? Yes, it was Ronald Reagan, and Reagan understood that one has to make compromises. For example, in 1964 Reagan campaigned very strongly against Medicare. In 1980 he said we have to accept the fact Medicaid is popular. It passed with votes from both Republicans and Democrats. We can’t undo Medicare or spend any time attacking it. It’s here to stay. Reagan adopted to reality. There are some things we can’t change. We have to pick our fights closely, fight where we can win, and fight not only getting conservatives to vote for us, but getting centrist and disaffected Democrats. We have to create, as Reagan managed to do, a new generation of Reagan Democrats. They’re there waiting to be taken back into the fold. The midterm elections showed that. We have to remember that as we go forward to 2016. Thank you.

Matt Kibbe: Saving Pat Roberts, $12 million. Rescuing Mitch McConnell in very Republican Kentucky, $50 million. The look on Harry Reid’s face sitting next to Barack Obama two days later, priceless. If you haven’t seen that picture, please print it and frame it and put it over your desk. You know, I think Pat Caddell and Richard delivered some of the buzzkill facts about what happened in the last election, but I think we should do a victory lap first, and we all know about the Senate. In some ways I think that was the least important victory, and let me just point out a couple things that happened. We’ve talked about new Republican governors. There were at least 350 new Republican seats picked up in state legislatures. Tim Scott, one of my favorite senators, is the first black American to win in the south since Reconstruction. Some of you will remember that Tim Scott was in fact the Tea Party candidate in a very crowded House Republican primary who ran on issues, who ran on something called the Contract from America against Strom Thurmond’s grandson. Someone should tell Mother Jones the story about how it is that the Tea Party is expanding what it is the Republican Party looks like in 2014, which brings up, of course, Mia Love.

The story in the House, I think, is more compelling. Let’s give a shout out to Mia Love. I first met Mia Love when she was still a mayor in the State of Utah, and if you’re talking about expanding the demographics of the GOP, consider this. Black, woman, conservative, Tea Partier, Mormon. That’s pretty cool, huh? Someone send a memo to Mother Jones on that one too. But you know the House got more conservative. It got more liberty minded, and yes, the House majority grew but we also picked up seats like Mia Love’s which is a Democratic pickup. Bruce Poliquin in Maine, who is another liberty-minded fiscal conservative, and also Rod Blum in Iowa. This is a seat that Republicans should not have picked up. These are candidates that ran on something other than “I’m not Barack Obama.” There may be a lesson in there.

Let’s at least touch on the down side here. The turnout in 2014 compared to 2010 was down 8 million voters. Now imagine what we might have done with a couple million votes at the margin in some of these battleground states. In 2010 we had much higher turnout among self-identified Independents, self-identified Tea Partiers, and self-identified conservatives. All of those voters showed up less in 2014 than they did in 2010. Interestingly, registered Republicans, or at least self-identified Republicans, went up a little bit, 1 percent according to a Wall Street Journal poll. I think that sort of punches a hole in this mythology that somehow Tea Partiers and conservatives are the Republican base. I think it’s better described that there are people that vote based on issues, not party affiliation. Someone should send that memo to Reince Priebus. You’re allowed to clap. It’s cool. So that’s the good news.

That was good stuff, and we need to be careful about the lessons for 2016 because I think, if you go to Nebraska, one of my favorite senators that will be coming in 2015, of course, is Ben Sasse in Nebraska. Now, if you compare Ben’s performance in Nebraska to what happened in Kansas, these states are fairly comparable in terms of size, in terms of massive Republican advantage. Pat Roberts struggled until the last minute to win in a state that we shouldn’t have spent a dime in. Ben Sasse spent far less money, and he won by 34 points. Now how did that happen? Anyone who was paying attention to this race should remember that Ben Sasse not only ran against Obamacare, he actually put together a very specific plan on what he would do to dismantle and replace Obamacare with a patient-driven system. You didn’t see that much amongst Republican candidates. Ed Gillespie actually did something similar at the last minute in Virginia, and you might argue that that was where he got his last-minute surge. I don’t have data to prove that point, and I won’t necessarily be able to defend it, but it’s something to check out, but Ben Sasse comes to the U.S. Senate as a one-man think tank that actually has ideas that were proven on the campaign trail on how we are going to manage Obamacare now that it is law, now that it has destroyed the individual market, now that it has radically expanded Medicaid rolls. We need more than “I’m not Barack Obama” to solve this problem, and this goes back to the 2010 analogy.

In 2010 there was a crowd-source document some of you will remember. It was called the Contract from America, and it was modeled after Newt Gingrich’s 1994 contract with one important difference. It wasn’t designed in Washington, D.C. It was crowd-sourced from millions of Americans who were asked, and Freedom Works was intimately part of this process. We actually had the audacity to ask Americans what they thought Washington should do, and so you came up with a ten-policy plank platform that not only Tim Scott ran on in South Carolina, but a vast majority of the Republicans that won in 2010 on a positive, specific, bold agenda. That’s where that came from.

Maybe that’s a lesson for 2016. The good news, and we’ve heard all the bad news, and I agree with all of the analysis on demographics and how an off-year election is fundamentally different than a presidential election. The good news is that we can actually fix this if we look at where the ideas are coming from in the House and the Senate Republican caucuses. It’s not coming from the top. It’s not coming from leadership. It’s coming from the bottom up, and perhaps that’s appropriate given who we are and what we believe. We think the genius of America comes from our communities, not from Washington, D.C., not from the top down. We are not Democratic apparatchiks that wait for someone to tell us what to do, right? This is why herding individualists is a lot like herding cats. But in the age of the Internet there’s a lot more of us than there are of them. If you go to the very long tail of the Internet where the decentralization of information – do you guys remember when Walter Cronkite used to tell you “that’s the way it is”? You couldn’t go on Google and fact check him, could you? You couldn’t set up an RSS feed and get multiple sources of information that told you that what the three networks were spoon feeding you was just not true. That doesn’t exist anymore, and even the New York Times is scrambling for eyeballs online in a very decentralized world where good information gets to people at lower marginal costs all the time. This is the new normal. This is the opportunity for Republicans that have enough faith in their ideas that they’re actually going to talk about big bold ideas going into 2016.

When Pat Robertson was in trouble in Kansas, did he call John McCain to come rescue him? Who did he call? Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Where are the ideas coming from in the Republican Party? Mike Lee just became the chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, which Jim DeMint turned into the Republican Senate Think Tank a few years earlier. Mike Lee is another one-man think tank. He’s the guy that’s actually not only sober in his analysis but bold in his willingness to put good ideas on the table. We should learn a thing or two from Mike, and by the way, the GOP establishment is preparing to primary him in Utah in 2016. We should not let that happen.

I think Republicans mostly succeeded in 2014 by not being Barack Obama. This is not a very good long-term strategy, but if we would embrace the idea that good ideas can actually engage people that are interested in ideas, not party affiliation, and connect with Independents, connect with young people who are more liberty minded, there’s nothing but potential here, but the GOP needs to get comfortable with the fact that they’re not in charge anymore. You think about the vaunted Obama Get Out the Vote machine, for all of its decentralization it was fundamentally dependent on a cult of personality from someone at the very top of the pyramid dictating this is what we’re going to do, people waiting for their marching orders. You cannot do that with Republicans, and if you try they will take your head off. You can’t do that with libertarians. You can’t do that with Tea Partiers. They rightly believe that they’re in charge, and the moms that have Facebook pages all over American, Tea Party moms that are bigger than county GOPs, they’re in charge now.

So the question is what is the party going to do to tap into this massive decentralized network of people that should be constituents of Republican candidates? Don’t take them for granted. Don’t tell them what to do. Engage them on a set of values and ideas that are compelling. Now this is not necessarily completely like what you would argue Ted Cruz is doing. I think there are a lot of big bold ideas, positive ideas, Reaganesque ideas that cut across party lines. One is yes, we do need to repeal Obamacare, but we need to replace it with something, right? And if Republicans were good they would put that on the president’s desk. If they can’t do that, they should repeal the individual mandate. It is completely unjust. It is completely screwing our young people, and it has bipartisan support. There was a House vote where 30 Democrats crossed across the aisle. Another interesting subject is criminal justice reform, including asset seizure, sentencing reform. These are things that Rand Paul has worked on that again creates bipartisan majorities. They would put the president in quite a bind if he chose to veto things like that, and most importantly, embrace the chaos of a beautiful decentralized community that will show up if you stand for something and will stay home if you don’t. Thank you very much.

Richard Baehr: I just want to make one quick note. To follow up with what Matt said. At this point in time, the Republican Party, which is of course the old people’s white people’s party, there are more statewide elected officials which means senators or governors, minorities in the Republican Party than there are in the Democratic Party. There are five versus four. The Republicans will put up a candidate and it doesn’t matter whether they’re Hispanic or Black to run statewide or Asian, and they’ll win if the voters, and particularly in those states where a lot of Republican voters like their ideas. Tim Scott proves that. Democrats will only put up their candidates, minority candidates, in safe minority districts. They will not risk essentially what’s going on statewide, and that’s why they have so few. If they are the overwhelming choice, they should be putting up more state nominees and they don’t.

Matt Kibbe: Just one more comment on what Rand Paul is doing. I was on a panel recently with Richard Viguerie and he described libertarians as the fourth leg of what has now become a Republican table. Not, no longer the traditional stool where you had social conservatives, defense conservatives and fiscal conservatives. I do think that’s true particularly with young people, and we should be careful not to disenfranchise all of these crazy liberty kids that can be unruly. They can be loud. Remind me a lot of exactly what I was like when I was their age. This is an opportunity, and I think that the party made a huge mistake at the convention in 2012 by disenfranchising Ron Paul delegations. It wasn’t like Ron Paul was going to win the nomination. They would have been smarter to embrace a very broad community that includes the liberty agenda as part of that.

Tom Lifson: I’ll use the moderator’s prerogative to agree with Matt. I live in Berkeley, California believe or not, and when Rand Paul came to campus it was electric. Nobody has been screwed worse by Obama than the young demographic. Nobody has been screwed worse by the education establishment than the young demographic, who are graduating college with debt that can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. So there is an opportunity there for the Republicans, if we’re willing to take it. Okay. Throwing it open to questions. Over there.

Next Speaker

Audience Member: I’d like to challenge some of the things that I heard from Ron Radosh, I’ve heard these from others as well, that the Republican Party somehow has to become more like the Democrat Party. We have to be for amnesty. We have to be for gay marriage. We have to be for all of this left-wing social agenda and it’s because of these palecon social conservatives that we are losing elections. I can say as a Republican candidate in a blue state, Maryland, first for Congress I was the Republican nominee in 2012 against Chris Van Hollen and again this year as a lieutenant governor candidate in a primary in Maryland where we ultimately won the governor’s race in a blue state, nobody saw that coming, that social conservative issues are big winners. And we have to be true to our social roots and our conservative roots. I campaigned an awful lot in Hispanic churches. I can tell you this is a demographic we are told by the political consultants that is not supposed to vote Republican. They were overwhelming going to vote Republican, and why were they going to vote Republican? Because we were against gay marriage, we affirm that marriage was between one man and one woman, and that is the way it always has been. That is a natural fact. You cannot legislate marriage and destroy biology. It does not happen.

Young people understand. And even in the Hispanic community they understood the argument which I put forward boldly and frankly and openly looking people in their eyes that we exist in a nation of laws. And the reason that many Hispanics came to this country was to escape countries where there was not a rule of law, and do you want to go back to dictatorship, which is what you fled from – or do you want to live here in a country with rule of law?

So I think, I would challenge you that we should not be abandoning our social agenda. We can perhaps express it differently. I’ll give you that. Yes, we could express it differently. We can put a more positive spin on it, not a restricted spin on it. But a lot of social conservatives stayed home. Many of them in minority communities, and these are votes that could be big winners for us, if we stay true to our values. Thanks.

Ron Radosh: I’m not saying you and other social conservatives should not stay true to their values. I did not say the Republican Party should endorse gay marriage. I don’t think it should. I think it should allow in its ranks those who believe that gay marriage is right, and those who believe it is wrong. To take a position on this kind of issue is going to lose a lot of young people. And they are overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage. Now you can try and educate them for your point of view, argue with them, present solid arguments as to why marriage should just be between a man and woman. That’s fine. But for the party to come out on one or another side of this would be disastrous. It’s going to put into oblivion. I think there are common issues. One other comment I wanted to make that I forgot to say, about ideas. And I agree with a lot of what Matt said. There is that group what they call the Young, the YG project, Young Guards?

Matt Kibbe: Young Guns.

Ron Radosh: Young Guns.

Matt Kibbe: Yeah.

Ron Radosh: And they put out a book filled with ideas. There are great theorists. Like my two favorite ones are conservative intellectuals Yuval Levin and James Capretta. You’ve seen Capretta a lot on Fox News. They have drawn up serious arguments for how to not just say replace, get rid of Obamacare, but how to replace it with a solid program that gives real healthcare on market-based principals. They have thought about this. I think all political leaders have to look at the various arguments in their book, that is free online, and take these, a lot of their ideas into consideration, and if you’re in office as Republican in the state or national level, see if you can work with some of these people to fashion legislation to present based on some of the concrete ideas they lay out. I think that’s extremely important.

Matt Kibbe: A quick comment on the question from a libertarian perspective, I can speak to my community which is very libertarian, but also significantly socially conservative, and I don’t think that you had to abandon your personal values and the things that you learn in church on Sunday or the definition of marriage in order to understand that outsourcing really important social institutions to 535 men and women that can’t balance a budget is a really bad idea. And I think we learn that during, you can clap. That’s cool. During the Bush administration, I think there was a lesson learned when we got involved in things like face-based initiatives that really outsourced really precious community actions, voluntary community-based activities to Washington, DC, and they started fighting over who got the most earmarks. I think that’s a huge mistake. I think that social institutions that hold this country together are way too important to let Washington, DC get its hand on them.

Tom Lifson: Thank you. One more question. The gentleman on the aisle, yes?

Audience Member: What you guys think about first a new radical right that gets in the media’s face and pushes the agenda to them instead of accepting the agenda that they get shut out of day after day, and secondly, creating a real marketing machine for the things that we hold most dear and pushing it out to the American people who will follow the first shiny object that comes in front of them?

Richard Baehr: I’m going to take a quick response and really take a different attack which is I think Republicans win when they have better candidates, and the machinery makes the big difference and the spending does, but we had better candidates this year. Wendy Davis was a terrible candidate. She was their Todd Akin. Bruce Braley was a terrible candidate in Iowa state. Democratic never should have lost. We came up in the process this year, produced much better, more effective, positive messengers for our side. It wasn’t just all a negative anti-Obama message on the state level in these individual races. The people we put up were better candidates. They were more – there’s no way a Republican should ever win an open seat race in Iowa by 9 percent, and that had a lot to do, not with the amount of spending, each side had it, not with the particular messaging that the parties put in behind it, but the fact that one candidate communicated better and connected with the voters better than the other side did.

Matt Kibbe: You know I think politics is a little bit like entrepreneurship because sometimes the customer is always right and sometimes you go to market with something they didn’t know they wanted. Say an iPhone, something like that. And all of sudden everybody decides that that’s what they want. So it is good candidates. But I think the machinery matters as well, and you guys are in the right place if you want to understand a little bit about how Democratic apparatchiks function because I assume you’ve all been assigned your readings from Saul Alinsky, and we need to understand that. Pat Caddell mentioned something that can’t be overstated. The consultant industrial complex is so fixated on paid media because that’s where they can make their margins. You can’t make a lot of money going door to door, engaging grassroots communities. This is why the left beats on us the ground. I’ll go back to something I mentioned earlier: embrace decentralization, social media. Instead of running thousand point TV buys, why don’t you target young people on Facebook? We’ve tested this. It works.

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