QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 9:47 A.M. ET: Scott Rasmussen, our favorite pollster, believes that this election may mark the last stand for the Republican establishment. He makes sense, as he usuall does:
Establishment Republicans in Washington broadly share the Democrats' view that the government should manage the economy. They may favor a somewhat more pro-business set of policies than their Democratic colleagues, but they still act as if government policy is the starting point for all economic activity.
Republican voters reject this view. They are more interested in promoting free market competition rather than handing out favors to big business. They detest corporate welfare and government bailouts, even though their party leaders support them.
The GOP base sees government as a burden that weighs the private sector down rather than a tool that can generate growth if used properly. Ninety-six percent of Republican voters believe that the best thing the government can do to help the economy is to cut spending and free up more money for the private sector.
The Republican base is looking for someone like a 21st century Ronald Reagan, who will display his faith in the American people. The Washington Republicans are more comfortable with politicians like George W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Though the establishment has dominated the party since Reagan left the White House, the 2012 election could well be the end of the line.
If Romney loses in November, the Republican base will no longer buy the electability argument for an establishment candidate. From the view of the base, the elites will have given away an eminently winnable election. Someone new, from outside of Washington, will be the party's nominee in 2016.
If Romney wins and does nothing to change the status quo, the economy will falter. He will end up as the second straight one-term president, and the nation will desperately be searching for an authentic outsider in 2016.
If he wins the White House, the only way for Romney to succeed will be to side with the nation's voters and throw out the club in Washington. That will be great news for the country but bad news for political insiders on both sides of the partisan aisle.
COMMENT: Both sides have establishments that can provide a useful service in stabilizing the parties and preventing extreme factionalism. They act as a check and balance. The trouble is, the Democratic establishment is becoming more like its base, which is frightening. Did you see that convention? Some of those people (not all) would elect Fidel Castro if they had the chance.
On the current issue, I think Rasmussen nails it. If Romney loses, there'll be hell to pay in the GOP. Whether such payment works out well is another story. The party can pick a truly creative and electable candidate in 2016. or it could go rogue and pick an ideologically soothing but unelectable candidate. That's what happened in 1964 with Barry Goldwater. That would be devastating, probably putting Hillary in the White House.
This assumes there's a 2016 election and we still have a Constitution.
September 30, 2012