Glenn Beck this weekend delivered a stirring speech to an impassioned audience this weekend. As we know, he emphasized the importance of God to our nation, and how this belief is integral to our strength as a nation. He did this without mentioning his own religion, which I find sort of interesting.
Mitt Romney, in 2008, was expected to be one of the Republican front-runners for the presidential campaign. He withdrew from the race early, but still managed to win or finish second in 21 states among GOP candidates. These states were spread throughout the nation with one major exception. He won no Southern states, and the only quasi-Southern state where he placed second was Florida.
Normally, this might not be a problem for a candidate. For a century, Republicans won the presidency pretty often without winning very many southern states. But since Barry Goldwater ran in 1964, these states have steadily moved into the GOP column. After this November, I would expect that this region’s House control will be virtually complete, with the exception of one or two majority-minority districts in each state. Will the party take a chance that it might loosen its grasp on these Congressional districts by running him at the top of the ticket?
Why did Romney not compete well in the Bible Belt? Obviously, nobody could say for sure, but I think that this region tends to be more insular than is the rest of the nation. They tend to reject those unfamiliar to their background; even here, in southern Louisiana, perhaps the most eclectic of the states in the region, this holds true. So, if someone’s religion is unfamiliar to them, they may be likely to reject them out of hand.
Back to Beck. It seems like his appeal is particularly strong in this region. When his show is on, every television at the gym is on, and everyone’s eyes are glued to the screen. Then, afterwards, the viewers can recite his lines verbatim, much the way listeners used to do for Rush. So, if Beck can eliminate their fear of ‘the other’ for himself, perhaps he can accomplish the same for Mitt.
Romney has plenty of advantages come 2012. He has access to more money than any other candidate, he remains the presumed favorite of the CFG, probably the most powerful of the Republican wings, and he has a large number of potential volunteers. His disadvantages, other than what I’ve discussed, are less obvious. One is Romneycare. He has to figure out a clear method of differentiating what was done in Massachusetts to the health care bill passed this year. But he has more than a year to think of something. His other disadvantage is that he, like Obama, is a technocrat. It’s unclear to me, in the time of the Tea Party, that a policy wonk is what the party is looking for.