Scott Walker is a shooting star in the Republican Party. During his term as Wisconsin’s governor he took on the powerful state employee unions and emerged victorious in three gubernatorial races including a recall. There are many in the GOP ranks that would like to see him at the head of their 2016 ticket.
Yesterday, Governor Walker said that he would support a 20-week abortion ban without exceptions for rape and incest. In what may prove to be Walker’s Todd Aiken moment he said this about pregnancies caused by rape and/or incest: “I mean, because I think for most people who are concerned about that, it is in the initial months where they are most concerned about it.”
The North Carolina state legislature will vote on a bill today that would allow state employees such as a judge or magistrate to refuse to marry a couple if they felt administering those vows would infringe on their religious beliefs. Translation…if the bill passes a judge or magistrate could refuse to marry a same sex couple, mixed race couple, transgender couple or even a heterosexual couple if that employee felt that the marrying the couple would infringe on the state employee’s religious beliefs. The bill has already been voted into law and the governor has vetoed the bill. But the GOP led legislature believes that it has enough votes to overturn the veto.
In 2012 there were roughly 20 million Americans who identified themselves as “Evangelical Christians.” The evangelical vote was 27% of the electorate that year. 79% of the evangelical vote went to Mitt Romney. George W. Bush received 78% of the evangelical vote. John McCain received 73%. In the 2014 mid-terms 78% of evangelical/born again Christians voted Republican.
Republicans believe that they must win the evangelical vote in order to win elections. So they follow a strategy that speaks to the interests of that evangelical base. As you can see they have been rewarded for their efforts. Evangelicals by and large vote Republican.
The problem for the GOP is that the evangelical population in this country is declining and the evangelical influence on our society weakens each and every year. Yet Republicans continue to play to that base…a strategy that has put them on the losing side of the popular vote in five of the last six national elections.
There are a large number of independent and moderate progressive voters who would welcome a compelling substantive discussion on smaller government, reduced spending and a strong but limited foreign policy. But any meaningful opportunity for political compromise goes out the door when Republicans start telling people who they can love, who they can marry and what they can and cannot do with their bodies.
Republicans have a real opportunity to win both houses of congress and the White House in 2016. But if they continue to play to the declining evangelical voter the only way they will see the inside of the Oval Officer is as an invited guest.