Beware of a Return to PUMA Hunting

Shortly after it became apparent that Barack Obama would be the Democratic Nominee in 2008, some groups of unhappy Clinton supporters began calling themselves PUMAs – standing for “Party Unity My Ass”. They believed, for whatever reason, that Barack Obama was unsupportable in 2008, and many promised to actively support McCain. This prompted many Republicans to believe that the election could be won on the backs of such PUMAs, and the party strategy was altered accordingly, culminating in the selection of Sarah Palin – a female Governor many now recognize was ill prepared for a national run – as the Vice Presidential nominee.

Unfortunately for us, the packs of PUMAs running to the polls in support of John McCain never materialized, and some of the adjustments made to the Republican campaign in hopes of attracting such voters likely did more harm than good. It wouldn’t be fair to say that PUMAs never existed – but in the end, they were far too few in number and far too low in dedication to actually help us on election night.

So, with the disaster that was PUMA hunting so fresh in the memories of the GOP, you would think that most within the party would be hesitant to once again spend time and energy chasing shadow demographics in the hopes of improving our standing. Yet some in the GOP, usually within the moderate Republican blogosphere, are actively encouraging the party to abandon its socially conservative base in order to attract what are usually defined as “upper-middle class, suburban, secular voters”. They believe that there are large swaths of right-of-center voters who are receptive to many parts of the Republican message, but who end up voting Democratic or staying home because of our positions on social and cultural issues.

But this does not seem to square with what polls have proven in recent months. And even where it does, its debatable whether or not the trade-offs required to attract such voters are truly worth it.

Little is offered to define exactly who or where these voters are – other than their title as secular suburbanites – and so its very difficult to try and determine exactly what kind of people we are looking at, but its probably fair to say that they are White, between the ages of 40 and 60, making more than $45,ooo a year, and attending church a few times a year or less. But with the exception of church attendance, all of those demographics either voted Republican, split, or voted Democratic by a margin less than the nation as a whole did – all this in a very anti-Republican year.

Whites supported McCain by 55%-43%, Those in the 40-60 age group split virtually down the center, those making between $50k and %75k a year went narrowly to McCain, and even those self-described as Suburban voters supported Obama by smaller margins than the national average. This comes, once again, in a highly anti-Republican year with an extremely popular and charismatic Democratic nominee.

Moving beyond Demographics and into the category of issues, it has been shown time and time again that those who consider social issues a top priority are a relatively small group, and that those who are socially conservative are far more likely to be persuaded by the positions of a candidate on such issues than those who are socially liberal; with social moderates – which these mystery “secular suburbanites” likely are – being even further disinterested.

Finally, even if there were substantial numbers of secular suburbanites who could easily jump to the GOP were it not for social conservatism, what would be the cost of adjusting our stances on those issues? It seems unlikely that we could pull that group in without abandoning the Socially Conservative base – a group who has helped to make the GOP what it is today, and, without whom we would be in much deeper trouble than we are today.

In the end, unless those who want to chase the secular suburban voters who are supposedly just a couple position shifts away from jumping behind the GOP can provide solid evidence that such a group truly exists in the form they say it does, its probably not worth the effort.

-Matt

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1 Comment

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One response to “Beware of a Return to PUMA Hunting

  1. Cliff Hutchison

    The GOP will never win on a national scale by focusing on the Democrats, whether it’s to criticize, oppose, imitate, differentiate or whatever. That only allows them to lead every debate topic, and makes us always look like the little kid brother.

    Ignore the Dems.

    Focus on what the job of governance is really all about.

    The Constitution.
    The Bill of Rights.
    The rule of law.

    American government has drifted FAR from these principles during my lifetime.

    It is why the economy is in turmoil.

    It is why our society is fractured into cliques.

    It is why we are hated in much of the world (when we Americans were universally admired only a couple of generations ago).

    It is why “politician” has become a dirty word.

    It is why most people don’t vote.

    Our country (and the world with it) are nearing a tipping point.

    From truth to deception.

    From development to depression.

    From hope to despair.

    From life to death.

    From freedom to fascism.

    It’s time to put the Democrat’s play book away and figure out what kind of government would be best. Not what would be a little better than our opponents. Or would give people what they want, but can’t pay for. Or would get so-and-so elected.

    Rubbish!

    It’s time to get out the Republic’s play book and figure out what kind of government it “guarantees to the States”.

    Just upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, after finishing all the deliberations and debates and drafts and votes, Ben Franklin was asked by a lady outside the Philadelphia hall, “Well, what have you given us?”

    Franklin replied, “a republic, if you can keep it.”

    If we can keep it.

    Keep it from overrunning it’s defined limits.

    Keep it from trampling on inalienable rights.

    Keep it from usurping the powers of the States.

    Keep it from becoming a democracy, monarchy, commune, anarchy, oligarchy, theocracy, aristocracy or anything else that the founders specifically ruled out during that convention in 1787.

    I write these things to you because I hope and trust that you will hear and respond. I have read many of your comments on race42008.com. Your thoughts are clear and concise, you seem to see the problems with the horse-race mentality, the sports-betting-pool mentality, the “who do you think’s gonna win?” nonsense.

    If I am correct about your inclinations, I hope that you will be encouraged to re-learn the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Dig into Madison’s notes on the Constitutional Convention when something is not clear.

    We need thinkers and statesmen in these dark days, not more pundits, commentators, and critics. I think that you aspire to be the former, not the latter.

    All my best,

    Courage

    Truth

    Honor

    In Liberty I am always,

    Cliff

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