Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why Rudy Loses, Why Rudy Wins

A couple of conservative luminaries have this week taken issue with the received dogma that Our Man Rudy is the most electable Republican in 2008.

William Kristol does so on the assumption that OMR is the candidate most likely to prompt a third-party antiabortion candidate to run, whose small popular-vote margin would erode OMR's otherwise very narrow advantage over That Woman Hillary.

Maggie Gallagher (thanks to JB in CA for the link) does the same, arguing further that OMR probably would renege on his pledge to appoint strict constructionist judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Fair enough, say we. Both of these outcomes are possible. We would like to make three points in rejoinder, the last of which matters most.

  • It's nowhere apparent that any of the other Republicans would fare any better than Bob Dole in 1996. We're not for electing another Clinton because we can't find someone who can beat a Clinton.
  • Gallagher points out that it was hard for Reagan to appoint pro-life justices. Agreed. So she says it will be harder still for OMR. Perhaps. But that's the deal with the abortion issue and the president: there's just not much the president can do about it, period, including any other Republican besides OMR, assuming such a person can be elected. So much as we care about the abortion issue, it's not at the top of our list for presidential candidates.
  • Rudy's real strength--really the political necessity of his candidacy for the GOP--is in the Electoral College, where the next POTUS will be chosen. To wit: OMR credibly threatens to carry New York, possibly also neighboring states like New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and perhaps also California. He forces the TWH to spend money defending states that the Ds have taken for granted since 1996. He upsets the delicate balance of the Electoral College, where for two elections a single "battleground" state (Florida and Ohio, respectively) has decided the election.

If Rudy can carry all the red states plus NY, there's nary a way that Hillary can get a majority of electoral votes. No other candidate has the potential to do that, and it's doubtful that any other candidate could merely hold the red states.

We therefore declare the received dogma to be dogma still. We aver, however, that the reason we have elections is the same reason we have ballgames: to see who will actually win. It's a long time until November 4, 2008--391 days to be exact.

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