The continuing (although the end is in sight) saga that is the Republican primaries has proved to be a fascinating process and a recent article in the NYT has put even more colour to the race to the White House. South Carolina has been the bellwether for presidential politics for more than 20 years, and yet in the recent GOP contest some of the data is hard to believe and represents a disaster for the GOP.
A few days ago I mentioned that the Hawaii GOP primaries participants totalled slightly less than 10,000 voters -- in a population basis of 1.7 million (trust me that's not a lot). But the results from exit polls for the South Carolina primaries are even scarier (for the GOP). First the shift in the type of voters; whereas four years ago something like half the primary voters (we are talking GOP here) were fundamentalist christians, now it's 64%. Whereas 95% of voters in 2007 were white now its 98% (scarcely believable that South Carolina's GOP is now all white -- its says something about the GOP appeal to other races!)
It gets worse; 72% were over 45, almost 30% were over 65.
So far in the primary cycle 50.5% of all primary voters (across the entire country -- granted California and NY have not voted yet) describe themselves as evangelical christians. Now there's nothing wrong with being an evangelical christian, but in America's population as a whole they represent less than 10% of the population, the implication here is that the views of a small minority of Americans is now forming the core of the GOP's base; which has resulted in the GOP taking a hard right turn.
This may explain why Romney is having such a hard time in getting his message across -- the "faithful" of the party are now a very concentrated minority with an agenda that has little if anything to do with the concerns of Americans in general. Evangelicals (wealthier and better educated) have decided (with their Tea party brethren) that certain issues are core to their representatives; and that the fringe candidates are their best hope to pull the mainstream ones along (its working). The GOP establishment that pushed hard for the Super PACs as a way to destroy the democrats have discovered that they face a doubled hedge sword; essentially three wealthy donors are fuelling the race to the GOP nomination. Honestly, a guy like Santorum can hardly finance his campaign, but he doesn't need to raise money because one generous donor is paying for all his ads!
The GOP is now regretting the SuperPAC strategy because it has made its eventual nominee unelectable for a vast tract of the electorate -- this is a huge disadvantage come November. Its a shame because it means that the GOP nominee will be on the defensive -- not attacking but defending his previous statements. It kills the electoral process, it kills democracy!
For Obama it is a golden opportunity; since 30% of the very active member of the GOP are over 65, the message has to be Medicare and Social Security must remain -- Paul Ryan's recent "budget" proposal does away with both programs -- The road to the White House for Obama has been scripted by the GOP and plays into the hands of the Democrats.