By Teresa Welsh |
Republicans are getting mean. In their effort to appeal to angry right-wing voters on social issues, the GOP candidates' positions are driving them away from most Americans, especially the groups they need to win the White House in November.
Last year, a few Republicans decided they'd had enough of Michelle Obama's radical desire to get children to exercise more and eat better, so they began criticizing the physique of the 48-year-old mother of two, with well-defined arms most American women admire, by calling her names. According to the Pew Research Center, Mrs. Obama has a 66 percent approval rating. This past weekend, Rick Santorum attacked President Obama as "a snob" for wanting every young American to have the opportunity to go to college. It's safe to say sending kids to college is popular with Americans too.
Even after President Obama revised his policy on healthcare coverage of contraception to include a broader exemption for religious institutions, Republicans such as Mitt Romney still attacked him. Meanwhile, according to the February PRRI Religion and Politics tracking poll, 62 percent of women and a majority of Catholics supported the policy. In 2008, Democrats received 13 percent more votes from women than Republicans when Barack Obama won the White House, while in 2004, a presidential election Republicans won, the difference was only 3 percent. When it comes to the gender gap, size matters, yet Republican positions are driving economically frustrated women into the arms of Democrats. A recent AP-GFK poll shows President Obama gained 10 points among women since the start of the controversy.
When it comes to immigration, a threshold issue necessary for Latino support, the Republican candidates for president have all staked out hardline anti-immigration positions, including opposition to the Dream Act, which would allow children of immigrants brought to the United States illegally to become permanent legal residents if they graduate from college or serve in the military. President Bush received 43 percent of Latino votes in his 2004 win, while John McCain garnered about 31 percent four years later. A January Univision poll found that 85 percent of Latinos support the Dream Act.
It seems neither compassion nor electoral math will sway the GOP from adopting these hard-hearted positions. They may believe that there is time to swivel back to firmer ground with moderates and independents during the general election, but seeds are being planted this spring that may grow into ripe fruit for the Democrats to harvest in the fall. Mean girls may have been popular in high school, but these Republican Mean Boys aren't making a good impression on America.
About Jamal Simmons Principal at The Raben Group
Simon Rosenberg President and Founder of NDN
Jeffrey Bell Author of 'The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism'