Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Condi 2008

Condi 2008 is an idea with enormous potential--one rightly picked up by Dick Morris.

Patrick Ruffini is skeptical. The team at RedState is more positive.

1. The GOP has a serious problem with racial minorities. The Sunbelt coalition of 1968 (and afterwards) is built on whites: as Kevin Phillips rightly put it in his classic The Emerging Republican Majority, the Sunbelt coalition was based on white perceptions that the Democrats had gone from supporting equal rights for blacks to supporting special privileges for blacks. The basic rule for post-1968 presidential elections is that the GOP gets about 60% of the white vote, and the Dems get 90% of the black vote. As white voters decline as a percentage of the electorate, that is a formula for political obsolescence. Dick Morris knows exactly what he's talking about when he pushes Condi.

2. A logical place for the GOP to begin breaking into the black vote would be by running socially conservative black candidates on the national ticket. The question is whether Condi qualifies as a social conservative.

3. If Condi is really a "reluctantly pro-choice" evangelical, that's a problem--less in terms of outreach to blacks than in terms of retaining socially conservative whites. But notice her support with a very socially conservative Southern Baptist:

The Washington Times writes:

Many other evangelical and Catholic abortion opponents say they trust Mr. Bush and support — or at the very least reserve judgment on — his recent Cabinet nominations. "I know Condoleezza Rice and know something of the way she thinks and have tremendous confidence in her," said Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

If you know anything about Al Mohler, his support for Condi becomes very interesting--it suggests that she may well be much more socially conservative than some may realize. And it may indicate that she has the potential to do very well with white evangelicals.

4. Condi's biography is both strength and weakness: she's clearly a remarkable women. But will white blue-collar Democrats identify with a single black woman figure-skater with a PhD? Will married women identify with someone who doesn't have a family? There are ways to deal with these issues. Although she doesn't have a family, as a former Stanford prof she can credibly tell suburban women that she knows what we need to do to improve our colleges. Her national security credentials make her a logical successor to President Bush. But her biography is more of a problem than some may realize.

5. Charisma? I'm skeptical: the soundings that I've done about this suggest that she doesn't currently have the kind of appeal that Colin Powell carries.

6. Appeal to blacks?--the potential is there. But many blacks admire her--but don't really identify with her or know what to do with her. It may seem unfair, but the reality is that many African Americans--to put it bluntly--aren't totally sure right now how black she is.

7. The GOP: what is fascinating is the passion that many GOP conservatives have for her. She's marketable in the GOP 2008 primaries, for sure: instant name-recognition, and very strong credentials for the war on terror. If she can establish pro-life credentials, she can carry social conservatives.

8. All in all, she's a more logical choice for the VP slot than the #1 slot. But she has enormous potential. If she could pick up even 25% of the African-American vote while retaining traditional GOP white support, the Democratic party will find it all but impossible to compete--and the public perceptions of the two parties would likely shift dramatically as well. If she can solidify her support with social conservatives and reach out to Middle American whites, she has an excellent chance to solidify the Bush Realignment of 2004.


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