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Still Goldwater Country

Pundits are scratching their heads trying to figure out why Republicans -- and predominantly conservative Republicans at that -- did well in Arizona this election. Everywhere else across the country, Republicans did poorly as voters turned out to vote for the charming Barack Obama.

Obviously, McCain being on the top of the ticket in Arizona was a huge asset, bringing out more Republicans to vote. Even so, there were tremendous odds stacked against Arizona's Republican candidates. The state Democrat party registered far more new Democrats over the past couple of years than the state Republican Party and had considerably more money. Democrats outspent Republicans ranging from 5-1 all the way up to 20-1 in some races. The mainstream media was predicting losses for Republicans in the legislature, and possibly a Democrat takeover of the House.

Instead, Republicans gained seats in the House, and replaced moderate Republicans with more conservative Republicans. In the biggest countylevel races in the state, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and lesser known County Attorney Andrew Thomas easily won reelection by wide margins.

Republicans didn't fare as well for the obscure Corporation Commission, but even Democrat talking heads admitted it was because the Democrats ran candidates with the familiar likable names "Paul Newman" and "Sandra Kennedy." The Republican candidates who lost tended to be moderate or liberal Republicans, and Republicans had heard mixed messages from them. The sole Republican who looks like he will make it on the board is a solid conservative.

Republicans did poorly in a couple of congressional races. One was the seat in Northern Arizona held by Republican Rick Renzi, who had been indicted on corruption charges. There has always been a Democratic voter registration advantage in that district. The other two seats were held by well-known popular Democrat incumbents, and the Democrats outspent the Republicans in those races by millions of dollars. One race pitted a moderate Republican against a glamorous female Democrat incumbent, and the other pitted a conservative against an incumbent Democrat who had been mayor of Tempe in that district (Scottsdale-Tempe). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outspent Republican candidate David Schweikert by a 10-1 margin.

So what helped Republicans in Arizona besides John McCain? On the ballot this year was an initiative declaring that marriage was between a man and a woman. Although gay marriage is already banned by statute in Arizona, Prop. 102 put it in the constitution, in order to make the ban more difficult for liberal judges to strike down. Proponents knew it would bring out more voters, and it did.

The immigration issue helped Arizona's Republican candidates. Arizona has the highest rate of illegal immigration in the country, and the state is facing the biggest budget shortfall in history, $2 billion. Democrat Governor Napolitano has done little to stop the flow of illegal immigration, and is widely seen now as fleeing Arizona for an Obama cabinet position to avoid having to deal with the consequences of wasteful spending. Both Maricopa County and the City of Phoenix are also in dire fiscal straits, with the county laying off employees to scrape by. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has taken a lead combating illegal immigration along with Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and both were on the ballot this year. Considering both won reelection by wide margins, it's likely that many voters showed up to vote for them, then voted straight GOP on the rest of the ticket.

There were nine initiatives on Arizona's ballot this year, and most of the outcomes favored Republicans ("vote yes on the 100's, no on the 200's, and no on 300" was the Republican mantra, which prevailed). Businesses favoring illegal immigrant labor had put up a deceptively named initiative entitled "Stop Illegal Hiring" which purported to crack down on businesses hiring illegal immigrant labor, but really would weaken the state's employer sanctions law. Its description on the ballot sounded tough. Yet it was soundly defeated, thanks to anti-illegal immigration activists who got the word out about this initiative, getting the Republican base to the polls.

Throughout the country, voters rejected McCain and the GOP because they were too closely associated with the overspending Bush administration. But in McCain's home state, Republicans and conservatives did just fine running on principle.

Letter to the Editor

topics:
Election 2008

Rachel Alexander is co-editor of IntellectualConservative.com

Comments

Steve| 11.14.08 @ 7:22AM

While this was certainly a very bad year for the GOP, it is incorrect to say that Arizona is the only state where the GOP held its ground.

Consider Oklahoma, where John McCain absolutely crushed Obama 66%-34% and carried every single county in the state. The GOP also padded their majority in the state house of reps from 57-44 to 61-40 and captured control of the state senate, breaking a 24-24 tie to a 26-22 GOP majority.

Republicans also cleaned house in Tennessee, where Obama wasn't competitive, all the GOP members of Congress and US Senate were easily re-elected and where the GOP captured control of both houses of the legislature.

Republicans also did fairly well in Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, Louisiana and Kansas. In addition, Dems suffered their usual disasters in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.

frost| 11.14.08 @ 9:29AM

Oh, those memories...
Back in '58 (as I recall) there was a cover story in Time magazine on Arizona and Barry Goldwater. I'd read "Conscience," very much disliked the East Coast thinking, and started writing a few application letters. Springfield, Taxachusetts and a governor like Foster Furcolo just didn't cut-it for me -- so, shortly thereafter, after connecting, towed a U-Haul 'cross country with a Rambler V-8 and, sure 'nuff, fell in love with Phoenix -- even saw Barry when he was set to do a TV commercial a couple years later; felt I was almost "in the presence of God" at the time, jaw dropped and heart palpitations notwithstanding.
But, alas, a LOT has changed since those 60s and 70s; hardly recognize the place anymore. Will make a trip over when my son gets married, but I sure don't miss (in fact, hardly recognize) that once terrific town. 'Way too much has changed, and very little for-the-better; McCain's been an embarrasment -- but so it goes...
Wonder is Durant's is still on Central...

Tim| 11.14.08 @ 1:03PM

and in California, an open seat was won narrowly by a true and tested real conservative
Tom McClintoc.

Steve| 11.14.08 @ 4:31PM

One of the other reasons why the Republican's did well in these states is because the Republican's who ran are true conservatives. I live in Tennessee. Except for our "moderate", typically political Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (who face no serious competition at this time), the rest are strong conservatives who have maintained there principles in government. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the rest of the country appear to be as liberal-minded as the Democrats.

Caliche| 11.14.08 @ 4:50PM

Hey Frost: Yep, Durant's is still on Central. (Pretty expen$ive but food is excellent still) Most everything else is different. I have a migration story pretty similar to yours. Been here 40 years come Dec 12. I ran into Barry G one Saturday morning at the hardware store (can't remember the name of the place, it was Something-Murphy's on Indian School Road)

To the author: that was a pretty accurate assessment of Election 08 in 'zona. We surely got waxed in the Congressional races. Thank God we got John Shadegg to reconsider retirement or we'd have lost THAT Republican seat as well. I'll be forever pissed at JD Hayworth for going insane at the wrong time and handing over a safe Republican seat to Harry Mitchell, who is likeable enough for a Democrat but who has never done anything I can remember and I lived in his city for 10 years.

Is this the right place to post a Want Ad? Here goes: Arizona needs viable Republican congressional candidates!! Some experience preferred. Conservative credentials a must. We have had enough 'moderate' Republicans (Definition: in Arizona, a moderate Republican is a Democrat who couldn't get elected in the district where he/she lives)

Gazinya| 11.14.08 @ 7:57PM

Want to hear something you may not have heard? For the first time since New Mexico became a state. Yes New England, New Mexico is a state. One of the 57 that Obama visited. There is not one Republican representing NM.....anywhere on the political landscape. Not in Washington, Santa Fe, Albuquerque....It's all demoncrates.

Alan Brooks| 11.14.08 @ 8:10PM

AZ is NOT conservative, it is libertarian-rightwing. Phoenix is sickening, worse than detroit and philadelphia combined. no, i dont mean scottsdale or other sections-- i mean phoenix.
Libertarians are not conservatives-- they are radicals.
but of course you will disagree.
I say up with conservatives, DOWN with libertarians and objectivists. Ayn Rand was ugly in every way. hideous.

R| 11.14.08 @ 8:25PM

But, Alan, I bet you liked Reagan. And what did Reagan say......
The very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.
I think what we all can't swallow is the right to life issue. Religious conservatives are very clear on abortion, but it is hypocritical. I can respect someones views, but here's what I don't get...
How can you be pro life, and not be against war and the death penalty?
You are either pro-life or you aren't. Pick a side and maybe people can respect it. Keep up the hypocrisy and expect to loose more and keep new registrants away.

Roy| 11.14.08 @ 8:56PM

Nonsense.

I'd go so far, in agreement, as to say the term "pro-life" lends itself to this type of confusion, but other than that, nope.

The problem with abortion is not that it is taking life, but that it is arbitrarily taking innocent life. "Arbitrary" being a fancy way of saying "choice".

Otherwise, you would be a hypocrite if you supported WWII, but were against the Holocaust. You would be a hypocrite if you opposed Charles Manson's murders but supported the death penalty for him. This is nonsense on stilts. I oppose abortion out of a dislike of blatant oppression of the weak by the strong, not out of some hippy-dippy pacifism.

Alan Brooks| 11.14.08 @ 9:46PM

Reagan was right, libertarianism IS most important.
I just dont like libertarians-- AT ALL. Good thing they tear each other to pieces or they might get elected.
Dont mind abortion, but I dont like feminists and so oppose abortion.
Oppose the sinner, not the sin :)

Michael Johns| 11.14.08 @ 9:50PM

While it's always valuable for conservatives to view things optimistically, it's tough to buy the argument that 2008 was a good year for Arizona conservatives. In the most critical electoral seats, it is liberals who have gained the most traction in Arizona.

Arguably the most important elected office in the state, the Governorship, continues to be held by a liberal (now allied with Barack Obama). And after November 4th, five of Arizona's eight Members of Congress--a majority--are liberal-leaning Democrats too.

In Arizona's First Congressional District, Ann Kirkpatrick, an inexperienced liberal Democrat, defeated her Republican opponent in a landslide (56% to 39%). In the Fourth Congressional District, liberal Democrat Ed Pastor won in a blowout, winning 72% of the vote. In the Fifth Congressional District, liberal Harry Mitchell also won by a large margin, 53% to 44%. In the Seventh Congressional District, liberal Raul Grijalva crushed his Republican opponent, winning 63% of the vote. In the Eighth Congressional District, liberal Gabrielle Giffords prevailed, winning 55% of the vote.

In the state legislature, Republicans do continue to hold majorities, but they are slim ones (33 to 27 in the State House and 17 to 13 in the State Senate).

Perhaps most astonishing on November 4th was the fact that Obama was able to win over 45% of Arizonans in John McCain's home state.

Conservatives need to be prevailing in states like Arizona if there is any hope for us as a national political movement. That isn't happening now, which means it's time for conservatives to carefully evaluate their message and approach and identify the precise reasons they are not connecting with large segments of the Arizona electorate. When the Governor's office and a majority of Arizona's House delegation are occupied by liberal Democrats, Arizona is not--at least not today--Goldwater country.

The question, of course, is how to alter this saddening fact. While national demographics are trending toward Democrats, including Arizona, it is also true, as has been widely argued, that we are still a center-right nation. One of the most important reasons for our defeats in 2008 was that many Republicans allowed liberal Democrats to deceptively run as moderates, or even center-right candidates. On a national level, this is exemplified by Obama, who has never championed tax relief in any of his governmental capacities and holds the distinction of being the most liberal of all United States Senators, being permitted to present himself as an advocate of tax relief for 95 percent of the country. He was allowed to do the same on national security and foreign policy issues, presenting his far left record as one of moderation and reasonableness.

Soon enough we likely will learn what a deception all of this was, but how much damage will be done in the meantime? We should carry ourselves with optimism about our future, but one cannot look at Arizona in November 2008 and say that we have reason to be pleased, or even content.

Michael Johns
http://michaeljohnsonfreedomandprosperity.blogspot.com/

Alan Brooks| 11.14.08 @ 10:03PM

sorry to post so much but will keep it brief.
The old school is very sadly dying off.
Goldwater was one in ten million. WFB is absolutely irreplaceable. Hope the Spectator isn't run by young people.
I am no optimist. It's like in the film Patton: Rommel says to a colonel or something at a POW camp, "you can afford to be optimistic; I can't"

nursej007| 11.21.08 @ 11:40AM

Are you kidding, Rachel?
John McCain did not help Republicans in Arizona. Those that won, won IN SPITE OF McCain.

Arizona is a state that is truly suffering from the continual onslaught of illegal aliens and the problems they bring and cause, and John McCain DID NOTHING to help us.

Hidden cameras prove the invasion continues:

http://www.borderinvasionpics.com

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