"To my friends in the Northeast, get ready, baby, it is time to turn it on and work, and work to do what we always do well - and that is win. We are going to win again in the Northeast. We're going to continue to win in the South. We are going to win with a new storm in the Midwest. And we're going to get to the West, we're going to lock it down, and we're going to win there too."
-Michael Steele, Republican National Committee Chair, January 30, 2009.
Many people see the election of Michael Steele as the start of the GOP revivial. I surely hope so. In his acceptance speech, he talked about winning again in the Northeast. Some have hoped this means running candidates that will win in what was once a GOP bastion. One would hope that is what he is talking about. The GOP has basically become a regional party, having stregth only in the South. The hard line focus on social issues have driven people away from the GOP especially in areas like the Northeast. David Frum highlights a recent poll that shows how GOP support has cratered in Pennsylvania. Frum reads from the Mulhenburg College poll:
As recently as May 2006, the Democrats held a 550,000 person lead in party registration in the Keystone State. By November 2008, that lead had grown to 1,200,000.
Yeah, I bolded that 1.2 million number. So, what is causing the GOP to hemorrage in the Keystone State? Well...
Most described themselves as moderate, 37 percent, or liberal, 27 percent -- an obvious contrast to a party overwhelmingly composed of voters who describe themselves as conservative...
...A strong majority of the switchers, 67 percent, also described themselves as in favor of abortion rights...
...Forty-six percent said they were closer to the Democratic Party on taxes, and 38 percent said they were closer to the Democratic Party's position on issues such as gay marriage and abortion and roughly a third agreed with the statement, "The influence of the religious right on the Republican Party's social positions led me to leave the party."
Now those who listen to Rush Limbaugh probably don't give a hoot about those of us who are moderates. Most will say "good riddance." For them, trying to appease "RINOs" would mean become a weak copy of the GOP.
But that doesn't have to be the case. One would have to assume that a lot of these voters supported the elder Bush and even Reagan. These are not wishy-washy people.
If the Republicans want to win back the Northeast, it means running candidates that fit that region of the country. They need to support candidates that might (horrors of horrors) support abortion rights, or gay rights. Social conservatives can run well in the South, but in areas like the Northeast, candidates need to be more moderate.
The question is if Steele can get the RNC to be more flexible and try to win back those moderate voters. I want to be hopeful, but when a majority of Republicans think Sarah Palin is the future of the GOP, one has to wonder.
Time will tell if he ready to represent in the Northeast and elsewhere, because, baby, this is serious.