The PJ Tatler

Republican Brand Hurts Romney While Obama Wins Culture Wars

Currently the Real Clear Politics electoral map shows President Obama in the lead with 221 electoral votes from states that are either solid, likely, or leaning.


As most of you know, 270 is the number needed to win the presidency.

Seeing this chart makes me want to tear my hair out and scream, “What is wrong with you people?”  How could Obama be leading 221 to Romney’s 181 with our economy stuck in neutral and millions of voters believing that it is Obama’s policies keeping us there?

Here is a possible answer to those important questions perplexing both the Romney campaign and the Republican Party.

The election is not just all about jobs and the economy.  It is also about negative opinions and cultural issues that voters hold about Republicans in general.

Let me explain.

Here is a line of questioning I emailed a handful of friends and family spread across the nation, some in battleground states, who I know voted for Obama in 2008 and who I assumed were planning on voting for him again:

Are there any circumstances you can imagine that would cause you to vote against Obama and vote for Romney instead?

Is there anything Obama could do or say?  For example, how about a negative change in your personal job situation or if the unemployment rate reached 14%?

Anything at all that would move you to change your vote away from Obama?

For the record, the demographics of this group are as follows:

All are in their 30’ and married; some have children.

They are all white, college-educated, and gainfully employed.


Here are the answers I received via email.

Answer #1

To answer the questions, no, there is nothing Obama could do to ever have me vote for Romney or any other Republican. EVER. I vote Democratic for the platform of women’s rights, pro-choice, the environment, the separation of church and state, which seems in jeopardy if Republicans have their way.

I do not trust Romney at all. He is a flip-flopper and says what he thinks his crowd wants to hear. There are more issues to being president than getting people jobs, and I am sick of that being the only focus. So, I would NEVER vote Republican.

Answer #2

Nope, there really is nothing that could get me to switch from Obama to Romney. I really don’t consider myself blindly loyal; I would support a moderate Republican over a weaker non-Obama Democratic candidate (like Huntsman for example), who is willing to be bi-partisan and have some damn common sense.

I just strongly dislike Romney and am nothing short of horrified at anyone supporting a constitutional amendment to TAKE AWAY people’s rights (especially for a party who supposedly wants minimal government intervention into society, that is a blatantly hypocritical thing to support), not to mention open and callous contempt for scientific fact and freedom of religion, along with a mean-spirited, childlike unwillingness to compromise and get things done in favor of a desire to unseat someone who has been trying to compromise in a bipartisan fashion.


Oh, and not to mention complete flip-flopping on most issues and distancing himself from his state’s obviously successful healthcare reform, which is magnified by an almost comical wonkish, old-money, out-of-touch elitist attitude dripping from nearly every word that comes out of his mouth.

The longer the Republicans try to cater to their extreme fringe right and support backwards, short-sighted, bigoted social policies, the more sensible moderates–BOTH Democrat and Republican–they’re going to alienate. It’s saddening that GOP campaigns feel like they have to garner the support of the most fanatical minority instead of listening to the majority of people in their own party who just want a little fiscal responsibility and to leave more things for the states to decide.

Not to open a political debate — Lord knows we’ve had enough of that — but I hope you will pass on that sentiment, which is shared by millions of sensible hardworking Americans, to your focus group.

Answer #3

If Romney came out promising to decriminalize marijuana (yeah right). (I’m hoping Obama will do it at the start of his second term.)

If Obama imposed a military draft. (Not likely unless we get invaded by someone other than Mexico…)

If the Rominee converted to Tibetan Buddhism, vowed to sanction China completely, and learned to levitate by Halloween…


Honestly I am trying here, but this is an extremely unlikely proposition. The Republicans, with the help of the Boehner, Rove, Koch Inc, and their incessant campaigns against Planned Parenthood, gun control, the failed drug war, etc., just seem to have pushed themselves into an intractable position that is utterly unappealing to anyone educated outside of a fundamentalist / conservative church, or a bank… Lol.  They don’t make sense to the majority of secularized, liberal whites, and virtually represent the Enemy to all racial minorities with darker skin.

It is not so much Romney, as what he represents as the Republican candidate.

Answer #4

Lol — no I actually voted McCain (although now I’m leaning Obama for sure).

I like Romney — but Obama hasn’t done anything that I strongly disagree with… he’s played the fence pretty well. If he went off the partisan deep end, I would probably reconsider.

Certainly, this is not a scientific poll, but what this group of responsible adults in their mid-30s are basically saying is social issues will keep them voting for Obama and, in the last case, strongly leaning toward Obama.

So what is the take-away from this little bi-section of Obama voters?  It is that culture war issues coupled with a negative view of the Republican brand are playing a much larger role in the Obama vs. Romney campaign battle than anyone in the GOP cares to admit.


Therefore, it is not just “the economy stupid,” it is “the culture bro” that these voters in their thirties have grown up in. They now believe it is Republicans and Romney who represent a threat to their values.

So while Romney keeps talking about jobs, jobs, jobs to these white upper-middle class voters who now have good professional jobs, and who, I believe, represent millions of voters born in the ’70s and ’80s to baby-boomer parents, the economy is not of paramount importance.

Obama will get their vote, regardless, because in the words of one of the respondents, Republicans  “don’t make sense to the majority of secularized, liberal whites, and virtually represent the enemy to all racial minorities with darker skin.”

This attitude does not bode well for Romney’s prospects or for the future of the Republican Party.

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