In the week since Election Day 2012, you can point to any number of blogs and columns and news articles from all sides of the political spectrum proclaiming that conservatism is dying, the Tea Party lost the election, and they should be purged from or otherwise ignored by the Republican Party. In fact, says FreedomWorks‘ Matt Kibbe, writing for Politico, the reality is anything but:
The Tea Party is not a political party; it’s an informal community of Americans who support a set of fiscally conservative issues. And when you take a look at the roster of new fiscal conservatives being sent to Congress next year, it’s clear our issues are winning.
Now that the dust has settled, the electoral trend of 2012 is clear: when candidates run on a message of conservative economic policy and limited government, they win.
The Election Day losers were not the so-called “tea partiers,” they were the candidates embraced by (and some hand-picked by) the Republican establishment who failed to run on the winning message of economic freedom.
Read the whole article for the details. Kibbe goes on to point out the numerous Republican candidates who did win, mostly in House seats, based on their platforms of fiscal conservatism. Indeed, he also cites a few Democrats, largely in Senate races, who succeeded in their election bids while also whipping a little fiscal constraint into their message.
On the presidential side, Michael Hammond pointed out in March (and restated the day after the election) that, in the eleven (at the time) US presidential elections since LBJ’s administration, five times the Republican candidate was presented as and perceived by the public as a moderate, and four of those times (Ford ’76, GHW Bush ’92, Dole ’96 and McCain ’08) they lost (GHW Bush ’88 snuck through as an outlier, under the perception that he was going to lead Ronald Reagan’s “third term”). Meanwhile, the other six times, the GOP candidate was perceived — rightly or wrongly — to be conservative (Nixon twice, Reagan twice and GW Bush twice) and won every time. Governor Romney landed on the former side of the fence; while claiming to be a fiscal conservative, his creation of Massachusetts’ current health care system was too big a divergence from conservatism to ignore.
Maybe instead of the folks who are ready to purge the Tea Partiers out of the GOP, the Republicans should take note of all the folks who thought the candidates were too much alike. Voters don’t like to see their tax money wasted, and candidates who run on the promise to be thrifty with it tend to win.