Republicans did well in North Carolina in 2012. Obama surrogate Paul Begala admitted to CNN that President Obama had given up on the state by the summer’s end. For the first time in two decades, North Carolinians elected a Republican governor. Voters also rejected a gay marriage initiate by a two-to-one margin. Conservatism is alive and well in the Tar Heel state, even if the National Party’s “Achilles Heel” was revealed for all to exploit in 2012.
While the national GOP did terribly on November 6th, the new Republican Governor, Pat McCrory, learned from missteps he had made running for governor in 2008. Unlike Romney, however, McCrory learned from his mistakes, aggressively campaigned, and won the governor’s seat. Columnist Byron York shared McCrory’s mistakes and his mission to make better on his record and win.
What happened to him in 2008 when he ran but lost?
"In '08, I got killed by the Obama ground machine," McCrory recalls. "We didn't even know it was happening. The amount of money Obama put on the ground was something we've never seen before in North Carolina."
The same “Obama machine” manifested again throughout the country, killing winnable races in Southern California as well as red-state Ohio and Indiana.
What did McCrory do about it? He did not do the “insane” thing of repeating the past mistakes, as the GOP National leaders did with Romney.
“He started earlier.”
Republicans campaign for the four months before the election, then go back to their private sector, limited government, individual liberty lives. For Democrats, politics is a 24-7 reality, a game that never ends. They do not just campaign, but they affect the culture of their battlegrounds during off-years. A never-ending ground game in swing states and some blue states might help the GOP. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a strong campaign game in place after 2010, which helped him to fight and best a recall effort in 2012. Romney needed to do the same thing in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“He thought through his positions and the way he articulated them.”
Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana should have done the same thing. When asked about extending any abortion restrictions, if he would support any in the near future,McCrory said: None.” Just like that, McCrory solved the problem which had plagued the controversial candidates who lost easy elections. On other social issues, too, like “gay marriage”, the GOP needs to keep it short and simple, or remain the “Stupid” Party, as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal joshed his Republican peers. Unlike McCrory, Presidential Candidate Romney faced a harder task from the beginning because of the overwhelming number of debates that he attended and the streamlined and dragging procedure for allotting delegates. All of that sparring and debating delayed the process, which could have been over by February and given Romney a chance to define himself and regroup. Unfortunately, he pressed further to the right in order to win the nomination, but could not embrace his comfortable center to win back centrists or remain believable enough to the base.
“He built relationships with more people across the state. He worked harder.”
This part was missing from the GOP playbook. Republicans forget that Richard Nixon, who had lost by the slimmest of margins in 1960, did not stop campaigning. He made friends, pacified enemies, reached out to like-minded constituencies in the South over eight years. He planned a Southern Strategy ahead of time, but he also implemented it. He stepped away from a losing fight in 1964. Instead, he let Goldwater’s extremism pave the way for his glimmering and refreshing pragmatism in 1968. He articulated a message for the “Silent Majority”, while Romney insulted nearly half the country with his “47%” remark, followed by his bitter claim that President Obama won because he gave everyone
McCrory did not insult his voters, but stressed his experience to get the job done for his state, where high unemployment and stagnant growth were on every voter’s mind. He also bashed away at the previous Democratic governor’s abysmal record, while Romney practically “French-kissed” President Obama during the final foreign policy debate, followed by his non-presence during the summer and grounded ground game in Ohio.
How about the Hispanic vote? McCrory never said “Self-deport”, but he reached out to that community, like every voting bloc, with a message about “jobs and the economy.” He won 46% of the Latino vote, an impressive stat which rivals George W. Bush’s take of 44% in 2004. Romney only got 27%.
Today, McCrory is running on prosperity, not just austerity. Government for public works is a good government policy, public investment which will invigorate private enterprise. While a grand-daughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower endorsed President Obama in 2008, McCrory endorsed Eisenhower’s highway system. Transportation is a hot issue. Republicans should say “We will build this (road, highway, bridge) so you can build that (business, entrepreneurship, profit-margin)”.
Wanting to win, learning from mistakes, and working hard to work for everybody: Governor Pat McCrory’s success will help the National Republican Party win