It would indeed be a strange quirk of fate, in that conservatives have so strongly backed Citizens United, if it might just lead to Mr. Romney’s downfall. For those of you who don’t follow politics so closely, ‘Citizens United’ was a Supreme Court ruling which concluded that corporations and unions have the same rights to free speech as individuals do under the law. This means that no limitations can be put on them as to how much money they spend on political activities. Since then, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to candidates from various special interests. Conservatives have generally enjoyed better friendships in the business world, so naturally, they would benefit the most … right?
Well … maybe not. The way campaigns have worked for a long, long time, a given candidate had to work hard during the primaries to curry the favor of the more active elements of their party. Especially in recent years, this has meant pushing to energize the more extreme partisans. Then as the primary season ends with a given candidate and the regular campaign season begins, a candidate will work to soften their messages to appeal more to the moderate and independent voters. But this election seems to be different.
Historically, it has been the Democratic Party that has tried to pull together wide, diverse interest groups under one banner to gather the number of votes necessary to win elections. This year the Republican Party is suffering from this far more than they had been. With their far right-wing being so vocal, Mr. Romney really had to stretch to the right to get the nomination. It has made it even harder for him to pick up votes in the center. But what has really changed is the MONEY. Citizens United opened up the flood gate for the money to flow. Money almost always flows from the extremes. People, and now corporations and unions, give to the causes that they feel most passionately about.
With so very much money in the game this year, it has presented Mr. Romney with a dilemma. Should he now send out a more moderate view, with the hope of gaining more votes from the centrists and independents? Or should he send out the messages that will keep the money flowing, appeasing the forces at extremes. For a long time, it seems that he had sided with the source of money, keeping the message more on the right. After his gaffe about the “irresponsible 47%” and his tax returns, among other things, he is finding himself trying to undo the damage by strengthening his message to the center. But will it be too little, too late? At the same time, it sounds like his fund raising efforts have fallen off. Perhaps he can’t both have his cake, and eat it too.
Just a thought … DonC