Quick! What were caucus participants in Minnesota telling us?
Thousands of Minnesotans went to caucuses around the state last night to tell the world what they think. Their message, however, may be lost in the wake of the attention being given to the process that delivered the message. Why weren’t precinct caucuses more prepared? Is the caucus system the best way of doing this? Who benefits from the results?
Those are all good questions, unless you really want to know what it all means to an average Minnesotan who may not be a political scientist. And what message did the voters on Super Tuesday give to the candidates themselves that might shape the general election?
Analysis: McCain looks to seal deal, the Associated Press headline said this morning. Not far in usefulness, really, from “Giants blitz sacks Brady.” We know Mitt Romney and Barack Obama won Minnesota. We know that a lot more people turned out than anyone imagined. And there message was….. what?
Here’s a sample of possibilities on the Republican side:
“I wonder if you are seeing that Romney has the support of MN people who actually volunteer for and support the GOP financially,” said the Republican blog, Truth v. the Machine, which also takes a good whack at the MPR/ U of M poll. “Maybe the people in the poll who supported McCain never got off the couch to vote tonight? As discussed here and elsewhere, there in lies the whole problem with candidate McCain. The people who actually write checks and do the footwork could likely vote for him in November, but the problem is they will hold their cash and spectate leading up to the vote.”
The Chaska Herald, meanwhile, carried a quote that suggests the Republicans who caucused really hate John McCain. “I’m trying to keep McCain from being elected. Go Romney!” said Ward 3 resident Roy Henderson. And the Star Tribune‘s account of a caucus in Maplewood showed why — immigration, primarily. “Let them come the way that we used to,” Larry Lyon, a retired engineer from North St. Paul, “and learn English.”
On MPR’s Midmorning today, Matthew Continetti, associate editor at the Weekly Standard, said McCain is not going to win over conservatives. Period. “But at the end of the day, those kind of practical political critics of McCain will vote for him.” Which means what, exactly, for the future of the conservative movement?
“Conservatives have been so vitriolic in their assault on John McCain because they don’t have a viable candidate in the race and because they don’t believe that McCain will keep the conservative flame alive within the GOP,” Allan J. Lichtman, professor of History at American University and the author of White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement, said today. “However, as we learned from the liberal collapse in the late 1970s, political movements usually succumb to contradictions within their own traditions. That is precisely what has happened to conservativism in the era of George W. Bush and the impending McCain nomination is but a symptom of a more serious malady.”
On the Democratic side, perhaps the message was to the media: “you’re wrong.”
“The media is also playing a divisive and misleading role through its analysis of the election results,” said Joel Wendlend at PoliticalAffairs.net. “An ongoing mantra in both print and on the cable networks has been that women sided with Clinton and African Americans sided with Obama. But in state after state, where Obama won, he also won the support of both women and whites, at least according to exit polling data. Young voters overall turned in majorities for Obama, however.”
Has your message been heard? What is it? Tell me below.