I’ve been meaning to flag Matthew Continetti’s Weekly Standard piece about a recent report on the 2006 elections by the centrist group Third Way. Their conclusion is that the Republicans did in fact lose the election because of Iraq and corruption, but that there was no sharp left turn in the electorate — the voters who swung Democratic fit a Republican demographic profile.
Continetti argues that the GOP doesn’t need to embrace economic populism to win these voters back; they just need the surge to work. He writes, “If the voters in 2006 wanted a change in Bush’s policy, they got it…. Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld, chose a new commander in Gen. David Petraeus, and rejected the Rumsfeld-Abizaid-Casey war strategy of force protection, Iraqification, and counterterrorism in favor of Petraeus’s counterinsurgency approach.”
I haven’t read the original report, so it may already address my questions, but I have three quibbles. The first is that Third Way is the kind of organization that doesn’t want the Democrats to go hard left on economics, so how much do these results reflect their own biases? Second, is the surge really the Iraq policy change even moderately antiwar voters were looking for? Third, does Bush have enough credibility with these voters that he could conceivably convince them that surge was working?
All that aside, Continetti’s piece is definitely worth a read.
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