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Ronald Reagan’s Victory Secrets

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Official_Portrait_of_President_Reagan_1981

Republicans seek to follow Ronald Reagan’s example to recapture the presidency but they’re confused about the way he actually won. Reagan didn’t win by mobilizing conservatives: in fact, the percentage of self-described “conservatives” in the electorate in 1980 was only 28 percent–the lowest in the last thirty years!

Reagan won by carrying “moderates” and “independents”, overwhelming Carter in the latter group by 25 points! By the same token, McCain and Romney didn’t lose because they failed to turn-out conservatives: they each drew a more conservative electorate than Reagan did in either of his lop-sided wins.

But Obama won both times because of success with moderates—beating McCain in 2008 with those voters, 60 to 39. Conservatives may resent the indecision of mushy moderates, but Reagan’s success shows that appealing to the center is indispensable to victory.

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  1. Ben  •  Aug 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Yes appealing to the center us essential for a conservative victory, but Ronald Reagan led a very conservative campaign which showed a sharp contrast between him and Carter. Since Reagan stood for his values and advocated his beliefs, he won many votes from moderates. However, the two most recent republican nominees, McCain and Romney, didn’t stand up for their beliefs, and were very flimsy and too willing to compromise. In short, they did not provide any sharp contrast with their democratic opponents, unlike how Reagan did. Michael, if republicans want to win national elections, then they need to stop nominating moderates, and actually nominate someone who is a conservative, and will run an enthusiastic campaign that appeals to all factions of the party, and yes, that means they should also appeal to CONSERVATIVES!!!! (even though you hate the tought of a republican candidate being a conservative).

  2. Ben  •  Aug 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Yes appealing to the center us essential for a conservative victory, but Ronald Reagan led a very conservative campaign which showed a sharp contrast between him and Carter. Since Reagan stood for his values and advocated his beliefs, he won many votes from moderates. However, the two most recent republican nominees, McCain and Romney, didn’t stand up for their beliefs, and were very flimsy and too willing to compromise. In short, they did not provide any sharp contrast with their democratic opponents, unlike how Reagan did. Michael, if republicans want to win national elections, then they need to stop nominating moderates, and actually nominate someone who is a conservative, and will run an enthusiastic campaign that appeals to all factions of the party, and yes, that means they should also appeal to CONSERVATIVES!!!! (even though you hate the tought of a republican candidate being a conservative).

  3. El Tigre  •  Aug 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I read an article once that stated that if you interview Jews individually, they all have conservative values. However, if you interview them in a group, they are all liberal. Why is that?

  4. Charlette  •  Aug 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Michael, I read your op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. FINALLY!! PERFECTLY said. I’m a Conservative Republican and fully realize that Conservatives will never win with losing agendas such as the one proposing to de-fund Obama in the debt ceiling battle. This is political suicide. We ALL want O’Care repealed-but this is NOT the way to accomplish this. Obama would LOVE this battle–so he can win the battle and blame the Republicans. We will never win the Senate in ’14 with these childish tactics. I think Senator Cruz is well meaning–but a little full of himself. It’s the kind of self righteousness that puts people off. It’s hitting people over the head with self righteous! This NEVER succeeds. That was the genius of President Reagan. He persuaded brilliantly–without puffing his chest out with self righteousness. And he was SO EFFECTIVE!! Hurray for the courage to make your case in the WSJ today. Republicans will never advance our causes with the Cruz tactics. We need to collect our ammo for the big battle–winning the Senate in’14. Without this, the country will just limp along until ’16. We can’t afford to wait that long!!

    • edge  •  Aug 7, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Clearly negotiating is not one of your strong points!

      Negotiating 101: Ask for MORE than what you expect to come away with!

      Yes, we want Obamacare gone, but you don’t start negotiating by not making strong demands or you will lose even more.

      YES, get all Republicans on board and say to the American Public that Obamacare is bad and your goal is to repeal it and replace it with something better.
      We WILL vote to fund EVERYTHING except Obamacare and force the Dems to say why Obamacare is so great…that is a losing argument and the Dems know it!

      1) Let the Dems spend their entire summer break on Obamacare and go to their town hall meetings just like in 2010;

      2) Vote in September and force the Senate to vote it down;

      3) Only after Obama and the Democrats have extolled the virtues of Obamacare and told the American public that those nasty old republicans are going to shut down government…THEN you spring your trap!

      4) House now votes to fund everything INCLUDING Obamacare BUT ONLY ON THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE!

      Force businesses to comply BEFORE the 2014 elections!
      If it is bad for workers then make the Democrats explain it and don’t let Obama delay it until after the mid terms…ram Obamacare down their throats!!!

  5. M.G.  •  Oct 20, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I’m an independent, not a Republican, and would probably be considered a moderate.

    That said, I sometimes wonder if Republicans spend too much time mulling over Reagan’s victories. Reagan was a popular and successful President, but time and demographics have changed the country quite a bit since Reagan’s re-election, and the United States is as distant from the country it was in 1984 as the America of 1984 was as far from that of the 1950’s.

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