The Republican Problem: The More People Listen, The More They’re Disliked.

One of the news feeds I look at is from Talking Points Memo, and this bit about Rick Santorum caught my eye:

For most of this campaign cycle Rick Santorum has been one of the least disliked Republican presidential candidates. This year especially he’s only been slightly underwater in terms of favorability and he was briefly in net positive territory. But around the 20th of last month that began to change in a big way

Why then?  Well, earlier he had swept three states and was now seen as the “principal challenger” heading into the next round – including Super Tuesday – and for the first time was garnering serious media exposure, giving interviews on many national outlets.  This was not a good thing.  But he’s not the first, either.

One of the hallmarks of this primary season has been how poorly each of the “frontrunners” has been able to stand up to the media spotlight.   I said in an earlier post:

While various candidates have had “buzz” within the party ranks at various times, their campaigns resembled more a local elementary school play than a Broadway production.   Candidates were caught unprepared for the media spotlight, they couldn’t enunciate a clear view of what they wanted to do, and frequently seemed to be caught out by predictable issues.

When they were unknowns, or just a name on the ballot, people either didn’t have an opinion about them or there wasn’t a big gap in their favorable/unfavorable rating.    That above-mentioned post was written when about the only people paying attention to the Republican field were Republican primary voters, the media, and political junkies.  But as things started to move into the serious campaign season, more people started paying attention.   While they’re still not paying attention to the extent that the various parties and media outlets might wish, they are paying at least some attention.

Which has become the Republican’s problem, as it turns out.  Mitt Romney’s problems with the conservative base weren’t the problems he’s had connecting with other voters.  He’s seen as “uncaring,” or “out of touch.”   Newt Gingrich’s turn reminded people of his time as Speaker of the House.  Right after I wrote my post about the difference between the parties, the birth control issue blew up, and while Republicans tried to paint it as a “freedom of religion” issue, instead it turned into a “women’s rights” issue, helped along by rhetoric from various presidential candidates and pundits, with Rush Limbaugh pouring gasoline on it.

Now, it’s Rick Santorum’s turn.  He’s being seen as a credible challenger to Mitt Romney, particularly within the base, but his public statements aren’t resonating with the general public.  The Onion spoofs it, but as they’ve had a tendency to do, they cut to the heart of the matter:

WASHINGTON—As Rick Santorum has emerged to become Mitt Romney’s leading opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, the American electorate said Monday it had slowly begun to realize that the former Pennsylvania senator sincerely believes every deranged word that exits his mouth.

Uneasy voters told reporters it was becoming more and more evident that comments from Santorum defending sodomy laws as acceptable restrictions on “wants and passions” and characterizing pregnancy occurring through rape as a “gift” from God were not politically calculated but were, in fact, spoken out of sincere, startling conviction.

Yes, a spoof, but it’s exactly why Santorum is now seeing a very large gap in his favorable/unfavorable ratings.  His statements are not going over well with the public.   What we’re seeing is that the candidates have a serious problem, and the Republican Party does as a result.  The more people get to know these candidates, the more attention they pay to them, the less they like them.  It’s not just Democrats or the “liberal media,” it’s independents and even various Republicans.  Here’s my Assemblywoman, Teresa Sayward, talking about it:

SAYWARD: I do not have a favorite in the presidential race, if I had to vote today, I’d vote for Obama.

INTERVIEW: Really?

SAYWARD: Absolutely… Because I really, truly think that the candidates that are out there today for the Republican side would take women back decades.

That is going to be the problem for the Republican Party this year, and in the future.  Women are not pleased by what they’re hearing.   Add in the dog-whistling on race, the flirtation with – or even outright embrace of – birthers, and statements and laws about immigration, and you have a lot of people not liking what they see.  It’ll be interesting to see if the Republicans can pivot once the primaries are over, but for now, the more people listen to them, the more they don’t like what they’re hearing.

18 Comments

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18 responses to “The Republican Problem: The More People Listen, The More They’re Disliked.

  1. emmageraln

    Reblogged this on emmageraln and commented:
    There’s also the minors detail that they’re all total lunatics.

  2. I don’t think they’ll have as much of a problem as I wish they would, because as soon as the start to pivot, or flip-flop, as it is more directly known, the people who really want to vote Republican will breathe a sigh of relief and say “Whew! They didn’t really mean all that bizarro stuff and they actually will govern like sane people’. They want to trust them.

    • I think they’ll try but the problem with it is that there’s too many states which are serving as sterling examples that no, they were quite serious during the primaries, and that the Republican House hasn’t been exactly covering itself in glory – just something else. ;-) The time since 2010 has mostly canned the idea that they will govern like sane people.

        • Let’s say that I have a great deal of cautious optimism. ;-) What Republicans have done on the state level has put a number of previously “safe Republican” states into play. What the Tea Party politicians did was to show that no, they meant what they said, and the usual expectations that they were going to be “sane” once in office turned out to be horrifyingly wrong. So on a number of fronts, the old notion of “run to the right/left in the primary, to the center in the general” is not going to be believed this year when it comes to the Republicans.

          • NAILED THAT!!!

            We have seen this here in my own red state with the historic recall of Russell Pearce & the backlash against the Repugs. I’m no polling person or grand ‘Medium’ but I will predict that AZ goes for President OBama by a small margin and that GOP gets routed here on local levels.

          • I am not a ‘hair on fire’ person, so cautious optimism it is! I do have every confidence that the president’s reelection team is going to use every weapon the Republicans have handed them.

    • Mary, I can’t agree with you. They will keep the batshista crazy “base” that they have been playing to but the reasonably sane Repubs (and there ARE some) are running scared. The so called “Independents” who may not have been paying all that much attention right now will be treated to all the caca these goatfiggers have spewed because I trust OFA has been saving footage like a squirrel with nuts for the winter.

      GOP can run but they can’t hide from the bile they have spewed & the laws they have been busy passing or trying to pass. This won’t be a slam dunk & we have got to work our butts off for PBO & Dems but the GOP is really helping us so much!

  3. I’ll have to dig out the link but I read that we had the lowest turn out for the Repug primary in our history. I live in a super red state with a high Mormon population. A Mormon I know told me he didn’t vote in the primary because all the candidates were just: “too awful.” He doesn’t know what he will do for the general, whether he will “stay home or vote for Obama.” I will be working on him!

    The longer their primaries turn into rugrat fights & the more they keep spouting their radical views, the more they damage themselves and the GOP. This isn’t just hurting their chances for the Presidency. It will damage the GOP & their “brand” all the way down the line to local dogcatcher.

    I want them to keep digging that hole so deep that they can’t climb out for 25 years!

    • Assemblywoman Sayward has another great quote in her interview:

      Sayward said she got her start in politics when she attended a local farmers’ meeting and was told women were to gather in the kitchen while men discussed business. “I didn’t come here to sit in the kitchen,” Sayward remembers saying

      That’s the message the national Republican party is currently sending: Get back in the kitchen.

      • I do love that! Most of these goatfiggers could never handle the HEAT from the kitchen! Slime sucking mutant toad lickers!!!

        • She’s the type of Republican that seems to be an endangered species these days. She’s fiscally conservative, understands the necessity of government while keeping an eye on it, and has some social stances that might be considered “liberal.” For example, she was one of the original proponents and sponsors of the state’s equal marriage rights act. The Conservative Party here withdrew their endorsement of her over that in 2010, but they couldn’t come up with anybody to challenge her. Besides, she had a huge war chest, thanks to various LGBT groups saying “thank you.” :lol:

  4. Betty Atkinson

    I don’t know what to make out of this bunch of Republican, you got(R) governors in 13 different states Pushing Person hoods bill.. They are going after a women’s right to even take birth control, they want to discontinue the use of birth control. if you don’t want abortion which is what the R’s are supposed to be about then don’t take away the Birth control, that don’t even make since, on top of that you got there front runner Mitten who agrees with every one of these bills right down to VP (Vaginal probe Guy) Bill. God help us if anyone of these people gets in the white house. We will be living under the churches rule.. Mitt will flip to catholic beliefs.
    These people are preaching absents are we in high school!!!!

    • “Personhood” laws are particularly stupid. Besides being unenforceable – science cannot tell when a woman’s eggs are fertilized in vivo – the reality is that most women, at some time in their life, will have one that doesn’t implant, or misimplants and spontaneously aborts. So the result is to turn all women into criminals. Which may be the intention.

      • Dr. Squid

        Well, if you turn all women into criminals, they wouldn’t be allowed to complain about being conservative baby factories.

  5. Dancer

    Your representative is so dead on and IF ONLY Dems are smart enough to hit that meme about BACK TO COLONIAL DAYS and BEYOND over and over using the very words of these clowns. The good news about Santorum IS that he says what he means every time…the bad news is that he says what he means every time. For all birthers please, I insist they show Romney’s serial number and warranty information…he is not REAL…he IS a robot! It’s in the eyes/moves/speech…watch very closely (my only conspiracy theory…HA)! And, even there Robin Williams did it better!