Friday, October 27, 2006

Schwarzenegger Beating Anti-Republican Trend

Polls show that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a commanding lead over his Democratic rival. This is in a solidly blue state in a time when anti-Republicanism is at a peak. Yet Schwarzenegger is easily avoiding the pitfalls many others in his party face this year.

Why? Easy. He’s not a party-liner. He takes positions independent of national Republicans and, after a rough patch a year ago, has worked hard to build congenial relationships with Democrats. The style has worked because he’s found an untraditional base of voters who don’t demand rigid ideology but appreciate a more considered and centrist/moderate form of government.

This isn’t to say Schwarzenegger is perfect—only that there’s a lesson here. As the Republicans look to 2008, they should recognize that there are more ways to win than appealing to the strong-right base. That, in fact, appealing to the middle can lead to greater success in many situations.

There’s also a lesson here for Democrats as their candidate is a former McGovernite and the more liberal choice in the primaries. As Ned Lamont’s sinking campaign proves, what the base wants and what the general electorate wants is not the same thing. A truth both parties could stand to learn.

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