An analysis of yesterday's voting results
July 18, 2012Analysis and Commentary
We'd like to think yesterday's run-off primary signals the start of a revolution in American politics. One thing is clear from the results, and that is that among the Republican voters who actually voted yesterday there is a pervasive mood that "business as usual" will not get-r-done in North Carolina, at least. And that sentiment should give pause to Barack Obama, Walter Jones and others in Washington because the sentiment expressed in the Republican Primary (both the first and the run-off) has swung to the right.
But we've been observing such elections too long to believe what we saw was a revolution. Too few people voted to support that conclusion. Only 3.6% of the registered voters cast ballots across the state, and relatively few of them were Democrats because there were no "exciting" races in the Democrat Primary. Beaufort's turnout nearly doubled the state-wide rate. Nonetheless, there were not enough Republicans and Unaffiliated who voted yesterday to carry the day in November. The battle lies ahead. But we think, perhaps because we hope, that yesterday offered a glimpse of things to come.
The results logically mean more to the Republican Party in North Carolina than they do to anyone else. What is obvious in both the first GOP Primary as well as the run-off is that the staunch Republican voters and many unaffiliated sent a clear message that "politics as usual" is not what the GOP base wants.
Much was made about Raleigh GOP leaders meddling in local primaries. As best we can tell the old school Raleigh Machine politics lost big time. Certainly Thom Tillis lost big time in House 6 where he supported Arthur Williams. Williams polled only 33% of the vote and could not carry even his home county.
Williams, as if stuck in a rut, actually based his campaign on bragging about how he "knows how to get things done in Raleigh" and "I'll be your friend in Raleigh" while paying almost no attention to defining his principles to the voters to whom principles matter most—the core Republicans and the swing vote. DownEast, that approach, supported by the elites in Raleigh, got no traction whatsoever. In fact, while it remains to be seen, it is highly likely that the biggest loser yesterday DownEast was Thom Tillis and his ambitions to be U. S. Senator. He stirred up a massive amount of passion with redistricting, ferry tolls and meddling in local primaries. Whether he can redeem himself among the GOP base will likely depend on how he operates going forward and particularly going into November. If he and his staff continue to blunder as they have over the last year it is possible that the GOP may lose its majority in the House. That's how upset many grassroots Republicans and unaffiliated voters are.
But the really big winner in this primary (both the first and the run-off) was the TEA Party. The various local TEA parties across the East turned out the vote, and in this election (with low turnout) this grassroots effort crushed the Machine Politics based on big money. And that was true not just in House 6 but across the region.
However, the irony of that (TEA Party success) is that the same battle plan will not work in November. Or, to put it more precisely, the same plan must work much better for principled conservatives to win. What the TEA Party/unaffiliated voters can do is deprive the moderate Republicans of winning. They can't steamroll over the RINO's (Republican in Name Only) and the Democrats but they will facilitate a Democrat sweep if they don't turn out the vote in November.
Turnout will be high in November. The reason: Barack Hussein Obama. The November election will be a referendum on Obama and that will impact the ticket all the way down to bottom of the ballot. The outcome, we will predict, will be determined not by how the voters cast their ballots but rather on who stays home.
None of this should be read as taking anything way from the statewide GOP winners or from Mattie Lawson. Lawson said repeatedly in her campaign: "it's not about me." And she is wise to see that. Among conservatives, both GOP and unaffiliated, it is about returning our government to its founding principles of limited Federal power, fiscal responsibility, less government intrusion into our lives and greater individual liberties. That is what Lawson was most successful in articulating and those who took the opportunity to vote Tuesday said overwhelmingly that this is what they want right now. We think that will carry over into November and indeed into 2014, when the focus will be the U. S. Senate.
Lawson and—as she says—her army of grassroots volunteers are to be commended. They made a difference. They showed what they can do. Above all else, Lawson ran a brilliant campaign. Brilliant simply because she articulated her core beliefs and stuck to those principals even when others were telling her to "play the game." She stuck to her principles, clearly articulated what those principles were and worked hard. We commend her and her army.
The really big losers in the House 6 race were not only Tilllis and Williams but Ashley Woolard and Bill Tarpenning. Woolard and Tarpenning fancy themselves as sage politicos. They made the fatal mistake of believing that money could rule the day. We would not go so far as some from whom we have heard and predict that they are "done for" in DownEast Republican politics but neither they nor Greg Dority won any political capital Tuesday. It remains to be seen if they can redeem themselves going forward.
One loser that we feel cannot redeem himself is Jeremy Adams. Adams ran in the first primary, and lost to both Williams and Lawson. Just the numbers indicate that he simply did nothing more than split Lawson's vote and caused an expensive run-off. He endorsed Williams, which made no sense whatsoever, until it was learned that Williams paid him $1800 shortly after Adams issued his endorsement of Williams. Adams, in our opinion, is roadkill.
And then there is Walter. The third district Congressman lost big-time also. He probably was blinded by his strong win in the first primary but by injecting himself into the Lawson/Williams run-off he eviscerated his influence in the Republican base DownEast. That will undoubtedly insure primary opposition next time and that will be an off-year election with lower turnout . Jones likely did as well as he did in May because he hitched his wagon to the Marriage Amendment, which was the driver of much of the turnout. What Jones now has to worry about is that he has created a sore in the GOP. Whether that sore heals or becomes an infection will determine how rough his road will be in the future, beginning in November, 2012. If the Democrat National Committee decides to target Jones he is in for a battle, without his strongest troops.
The really interesting thing to consider from Tuesday's results is whether the sentiment expressed by the Republican core who turnout to vote in this election is indicative of a broader mood among those who did not vote Tuesday. Indications are that it is. It will be interesting to watch how the voters respond to the early fall campaigning by the "principled conservatives" like Mattie Lawson, Bill Cook, Norm Sanderson, Bob Steinburg et. al. If the message these candidates put forward resonates and if the TEA Party activists join with the GOP stalwarts they will be a force to be reckoned with. If, at the same time, Barack Obama loses his ability to turn out his base then Pat McCrory and Mitt Romney will win big in North Carolina. And the Raleigh Machine will find itself sidelined.
It will be interesting to watch.