Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jacobson: If 'She Can't Win,' Then Neither Can We

"Let them all enter the primaries and let them all be seriously considered"
William Jacobson, the law professor who blogs at Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion, has been on the case of the PDS-afflicted on both the left and the right who have been pushing their "can't win" meme so hard lately. The naysayers with their axes to grind insist she doesn't even deserve to be seriously considered by GOP primary voters because the 2008 Republican vice presidential just can't win a general election.

They cite as evidence her poll numbers, but they don't want to talk about how far down in the polls (22 points) Ronald Reagan was to Jimmy Carter in January, 1979. They say she is "too divisive," but Reagan was characterized in the same manner. They say she's too hated by the left, but so was George W. Bush, yet that did not prevent him from winning a second term in 2004. Tim Pawlenty and a number of other prospective GOP presidential candidates have poll numbers much lower than those of Sarah Palin, but no one is claiming that any of them "can't win." As Prof. Jacobson observes, the meme has been used almost exclusively against Sarah Palin. But he points out that she is not the issue:
The issue is whether we will demoralize voters who would work hard to elect a Republican -- even a Republican not quite to their liking -- in the general election provided the primary process were viewed as fair and open.

We saw in the 2010 elections that Tea Party supporters are among the most loyal. Where Tea Party candidates lost primaries, Tea Party supporters rallied around the winner, or at least did not actively seek to undermine the winners. By contrast, the moment establishment candidates lost, there were active attempts in some races by establishment Republicans (and unfortunately, some of the conservative blogosphere) to undermine the candidates.

There is no better way to demoralize a key segment of the Republican Party, and damage our chances in November 2012, than to announce a year before the primaries even begin that Palin should not even enter the primary fray or should not be seriously considered because she cannot win a general election.

We do not need the Republican equivalents of 2008 Democratic PUMAs, people so embittered by the perceived unfairness of the primary process that they stayed home or switched sides in November. And that will be the result of attempts to shut Palin out of the process through the "can't win" strategy.


If "she can't win" is the means by which one of the candidates wins the Republican nomination, then we can't win either.

- JP

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