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How Not to Choose a Presidential Candidate

Pundits and activists offer plenty of advice for voters, but several factors are not worth considering. (Also read: "The stupid Palin woman.")

by
Adam Graham

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June 4, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Undecided and loosely committed conservative voters face a tough decision on whom to support in 2012. How should they make their decisions? Pundits and activists offer plenty of advice for voters, but several factors are not worth considering:

Electability

While we should consider a candidate’s experience, record, and ability to communicate with voters, for many pundits and party leaders, this isn’t what electability means. It’s an alias for conventional wisdom.

Pundits and politicians make false assumptions like: a conservative can’t win the election. Also, “bird in the bush” theories propose that if the party jettisons social conservatives, then a large pool of voters would embrace the Republican Party. No proof is ever offered that this large pool of voters exists anywhere but in the minds of pundits. In the case of the abortion issue, the actual evidence suggests Republicans enjoy a large advantage because of their position on the issue.

Voters are far more concerned about the condition of the country than the factors  “electability” experts trumpet. Republicans should nominate a candidate who will put their best foot forward in representing the party. Unsubstantiated electability claims should be dismissed.

Identity Politics

There are good reasons to back Herman Cain. One bad reason is often cited by activists: in nominating Herman Cain, the GOP would neutralize the race card and gain a significant portion of the black vote. Andrew Breitbart doubled down and called for a ticket of Herman Cain and freshman Congressman Allen West (R-FL)

It is doubtful this tactic will provide lasting gains. Black conservatives are attacked as race traitors. Justice Clarence Thomas was once forced to withdraw from a school event in a predominantly black district due to threats of a protest. The GOP in recent years had a black House Caucus chairman, a black RNC chairman, and elected two black congressmen from the former Confederacy.

In addition, the party has nominated several blacks for the U.S. Senate, governorships, and seats in the House. It has done little good in advancing the GOP cause in the African American community. This is clearly not enough to win over the black vote.

Those who advocate a Cain candidacy on racial grounds are right that the GOP needs to increase its share of the black vote. However, they’re trying to take a shortcut. The Democrats dominate the black vote because they’ve politically organized in the black community. Republicans must do the same. It will take time, money, and effort to reach out. There is no easy way to victory.

Similarly, nominating a female candidate will not give the GOP any edge among women. To the contrary, women rate Sarah Palin more unfavorably than men.

The GOP should nominate the best candidate regardless of race or gender. Basing nominations on identity politics thinking it will gain brownie points has been proven to be baseless.

Forget Veep Madness

In addition to Breitbart’s Cain-West dynamic duo, N.M. Guariglia has called for Congressman West to spice up a Mitt Romney candidacy. In light of the 2008 campaign, these calls for West and other rising politicos, such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) or Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), to be placed in the veep spot seem ill-advised at best.

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