The Schism Between Republican Voters and Republican Leaders

Brian Brady Brian Brady 2 Comments

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In my last two years as an Executive Board member of the Republican Party of San Diego County (a position from which I’ve resigned), I noticed a growing alienation between “rank-and-file” Republican volunteers and our County Central Committee (an elected position which I still hold). The most engaged Republican voters think we push candidates on them rather than listen to them. I covered this in my series about the RPSDC.

This isn’t just a San Diego problem.

Breitbart News reports that political consultant Pat Caddell sees this happening nationwide:

“The alienation among Republican voters is so high,” says Caddell, that conservatively “a quarter to one-third of the Republican party are hanging by a thread from bolting.” Caddell argues that GOP voters’ attitudes are “so anti-establishment,” and they give Republican leadership poor ratings.

Breitbart’s Chairman asked Caddell, “Does the math show you that there could be an uprising and could the GOP go the way of the Whig Party?” (The Whigs elected two presidents in the mid 19th century, and at one time, claimed Abraham Lincoln as a member, but quickly disappeared from the political landscape over slavery issues.)

Caddell answered by reminding Bannon that the estimate that one-quarter to one-third are hanging on by a thread is a conservative one. He explained:

The GOP leadership, the lawyers, the lobbyists, the consultant class of the Republican party, and all the big donors don’t understand that these people are angry … They are saying that John Boehner doesn’t care about them, and all he cares about is the special interests. I’ve never seen anything like this in the base of a party. And that is why the analogy to the Whigs is not so far-fetched.

This is dangerous territory for the Republican brand. Political party committees have an advantage of being able to spend unlimited money on Republican voter contact. If one out of three voters re-register to Decline-to-State, because of the feckless national leadership, the Republican Party of San Diego County will be neutered in its ability to get local Republicans elected. 

My advice is simple:

1- Start voter contact in an off-election year…like right now. A quarterly mail contact costs $1-2 million. Fundraising responsibility should be delegated to elected Republicans, especially Congressmen and Assembly Members, to raise funds into the local party to support this project.

2- Distinguish the local brand from the national and state party organizations.  Make “San Diego Republican” a brand which is aligned with the voters in San Diego County.

3- Re-establish the Neighborhood Volunteer Precinct Captain program…quickly.  We need to get Republican volunteers talking to their neighbors as early as September of 2015. The Presidential primary elections will have people re-engaged in politics and local Republicans will want to hear from their local party.

It’s time to broaden the tent and get our voters to volunteer,  join local clubs, come to county meetings, meet elected officials and candidates, and start to feel like our local leadership is engaged with them rather than dictating to them. We can do this now, and be impervious to the mistakes the national party makes or stick our head in the sand while the national party wrecks the brand.

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Comments 2

  1. An Idea has come to mind.

    Our San Diego County Republican Party has lost over 80,000 registrants over the last 5 or six years. Our Party is losing members.

    What if the Party did a mailing to those Ex-Republicans who have left the Party asking them to fill out a short survey indicated the reason(s) WHY they have left?

    Getting this information direct from those who have left would really tell us a lot of what we need to do to fix The Schism (you talk about here, which I completely believe is real and is happening).

    This is worth looking into…

  2. Lee,
    Sadly, as long as the CC’s primary focus is to feed the desirements from the ongoing insider back scratching of the fundraisers of select, influential CC members, the process will not be fixed. There is no incentive…the 80K lost Republicans didn’t happen yesterday…why wasn’t there an emergency action meeting with succinct action items for course reversal when the number first hit 10K years ago…then 20K..50K, and so on…they didn’t see a problem because it didn’t affect them. Whatever insider, good deal, quid-pro-quo dealings that were going on with the various key players within the RPSDC, consultants, enablers, and fundraisers trumped the concerns of the deteriorating and dwindling numbers of the life blood of the party; essentially, they partied for years knowing the patient was bleeding out.

    That is an outrage; an indictment on the “leadership” and a tell tail sign that their own self-aggrandizement was more important than the losses of the GOP’s true influence, supporters, key volunteers, and prestige on the SD political stage, thus letting down the very people they claim to support.

    (BTW- many cite Faulconer as an example of RPSDC success: but he didn’t “win”…the Dems lost by overplaying their hand and shoving union and outsider influence into the mix…which is an anathema for SDC voters…the euphoria of the Mayor’s win is a quick high. Sadly, he is as androgynously political for Republican tenets with his playing the “independent” card as DeMaio was…

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