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Good evening,

Hope this finds you well. I wanted to share with you two of Will Marshall's latest pieces before the results start rolling in: 1) Why the GOP Deserves to Lose at the Washington Monthly; 2) Centrist Voters Back Obama.

I've also pasted the full text below.

Cheers,

Steven

Steven K. Chlapecka – Director, Public Affairs
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Why the GOP Deserves to Lose

by Will Marshall

Whatever happens, it’s a safe bet the 2012 presidential election won’t go down in history as one for the ages. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have bickered ad nauseum, but neither has put before voters credible plans for reviving the economy or breaking the choke hold that political polarization has on American democracy.

The choice facing voters, however, isn’t just between the two candidates. It’s also between the parties they represent. And here the choice is easier: Based on its record of political sabotage over the past four years, the Republican Party richly deserves to lose.

America could survive four years of President Romney. But a Romney victory would reward his party’s reckless embrace of ideological extremism and obstructionism. It would vindicate the GOP’s decision to abandon the political center, put partisanship before country, and cater shamelessly to the voters’ darker impulses.

Worst of all, it would give power to a party that hates government so much that it is incapable of governing. A Republican victory would likely mean four years in which the problem-solving capacities of our national government would continue to atrophy.

This is a pretty serious indictment, so let’s be specific.

The next president’s first big challenge will be to keep America from barreling off the fiscal cliff. That would mean higher taxes for everyone and irresponsible cuts in both domestic and defense spending. Letting that happen would fix our debt problem, but in the worst possible way — by plunging our fragile economy into an icy bath of job-killing austerity.

Fiscal politics can’t be divorced from economic politics. We need to fix the debt because we need to fix our economy. Everything else — spurring new investments in growth; overhauling our tax system; reforming entitlements; rationalizing defense spending, improving public education; fixing our immigration mess — depends on putting in place a credible framework for debt reduction as the recovery picks up strength.

Republicans have no serious answer to America’s fiscal dilemma. Their plan to reduce the debt by spending cuts alone is a political fantasy. No self-respecting Democrat would ever go along with it, and plenty of GOP voters would rise in revolt if it actually happened. Yet today’s Republicans have sold their political souls to Grover Norquist, signing blood oaths to never, ever do what Ronald Reagan did repeatedly — raise taxes to close deficits.

Sure, Romney probably didn’t mean it during the GOP primaries when he joined his rivals in rejecting even a 10-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes. Maybe a President Romney would try to broker a bipartisan deal that combines higher revenues and spending cuts. But why would his party, flush with electoral victory, go along?

Democrats might not be in a compromising mood either if President Romney honored his pledge to start undoing Obamacare on day one. Nothing is more likely to trigger a resumption of partisan trench warfare on Capitol Hill, not to mention endless litigation. And if voters were angry at Obama for taking his eye of the economic ball during the great health reform battle, imagine how’ll they feel if Republicans spend the next two years reprising that battle instead of attending to a still-weak economy.

Another urgent task facing the next president will be to get energy and environmental policy back on track. Here again the contrast between Obama’s comprehensive approach and the Republicans’ one-sided demands is stark. Their “drill-baby-drill” mantra would deepen America’s reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal, boost U.S. carbon emissions and retard the development of renewable fuels and clean technologies of all kinds.

In fact, America’s shale gas and oil windfall is a tremendous boon to the U.S. economy. Obama has acknowledged as much, even as some environmental activists and liberals delude themselves into thinking we won’t develop these resources. But more shale gas and oil must be part of a balanced national energy strategy that also puts a price on carbon emissions to drive private investments in energy efficiency and innovation.

Immigration reform is another task that has been deferred too long. Obama has vowed to make it a priority in a second term, but it’s hard to see how the Republicans could build a broad political consensus behind their militantly restrictionist views.

Could Romney, who famously urged illegal immigrants to “self-deport,” pull a “Nixon to China” and embrace a comprehensive reform blueprint that includes a path to legal status for a significant chunk of them? Well, he’s nothing if not flexible when it comes to changing his positions. But why would his triumphant party feel any need to back off of its opposition to “amnesty,” especially if they only won about a quarter of the Latino vote?

Nothing better captures the radicalization of the GOP — and its political costs — than the party’s swing to the right on immigration. The last two GOP presidential nominees supported comprehensive immigration reform, with George W. Bush winning 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2004. Under the influence of Tea Party-infused nativism, the Republicans have burned bridges to these voters and turned themselves into a party of white identity politics.

Their attempts to resurrect the old bugaboo of “welfare dependency” and relentless efforts to delegitimize Barack Obama have not gone unnoticed by black Americans. They wonder why the temperate Obama, who goes out of his ways to avoid rubbing salt in America’s racial wounds, should be regarded by many on the right as some kind of foreigner or “socialist” interloper who wasn’t really born here and therefore is literally un-American. If this isn’t a matter of racial prejudice, what is it?

Presidential elections are opportunities for political accountability and democratic self-correction. For decades after the schisms of the late 1960s, Democrats were punished by voters for having wandered deep into the fever swamps of left-wing ideology. Now it’s the Republicans who have embraced a radical anti-government dogma that is out of step with America’s essentially moderate political ethos.

It’s up to voters, especially independents and moderates, to fortify the pragmatic center by denying Republicans victory.

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Centrist Voters Back Obama

by Will Marshall

Despite Mitt Romney’s belated October dash toward the political center, moderates have lined up solidly behind President Obama. Centrist voters put Obama over the top in 2008, and they could very well do it again today.

Pew’s final campaign poll shows Obama moving from a dead heat to a three-point lead in the election’s last week. Specifically, he cut Romney’s margins among seniors (from +19 to +9) and padded his lead among women (+13 points) and moderates (+21).

Obama leads Romney 56-25 among moderate voters, close to the 60 percent he won in 2008. Because there are about twice as many conservatives as liberals in the electorate, Democrats have to claim big majorities among moderates to win elections. According to Pew, voters now identify themselves as 43 percent conservative, 32 percent moderate and 21 percent liberal, nearly identical to their ideological profile in 2008.

Although liberals consider themselves the Democratic “base,” there aren’t nearly enough of them to deliver victory. In 2008, half of Obama’s vote came from moderates, while liberals accounted for 37 percent. Republicans need fewer moderates to build majorities, which helps to explain why GOP centrists are a vanishing breed.

There are a couple of important political implications. Pew’s numbers suggest that Republicans have failed to persuade voters that Obama is the off-the-charts liberal or Europe-loving “socialist” of the Tea Party’s febrile imagination. On the contrary, Republicans and their standard bearer may pay a stiff price today for having let feral partisans and far-right ideologues hijack their party.

Last February, in an analysis of the 2012 electoral landscape, I wrote that GOP “intransigence and obstructionism throughout 2011 will make many swing voters reluctant to entrust them with undivided control of the federal government.” If that prediction is born out today, it will mean our electoral system is doing what it should do: punishing parties and candidates that dally with political extremism.

Not once during this election cycle did Romney face down the crazies in his party. And it’s not like he didn’t have plenty of chances to have his own Sister Souljah moment. Birther conspiracists; Michele Bachman’s nutty ideas about Muslim influence in the U.S. government; idiotic declarations by GOP Senate candidates about legitimate rape and ensuing pregnancies blessed by God; vaginal ultrasounds in Virginia – the 2012 election offered a target-rich environment for a candidate who wants to burnish his moderate credentials. Instead, Romney attacked his primary opponents from the right (gobsmacking Rick Perry on immigration, for example) to prove to skeptical Tea Party types how “severely conservative” he really is. Although Romney has spent the last month sounding like the reasonable fellow he probably is, centrist voters haven’t been swayed.

Finally, there’s an implication here for Democrats too. Some liberals yearn for the kind of ideological cohesion Republicans seem to have achieved. Big mistake. That Democrats are a philosophical hybrid – with roughly equally numbers of moderates and liberals and a significant smattering of conservatives – is a strength for the party, not a weakness. It gives them a chance to build a broad, center-left coalition that occupies a political center that Republicans, for now at least, have abandoned.

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