Friday, December 15, 2017
Opinion

Column: The conservative disconnect

There are two views as to why characters such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and groups including Heritage Action insist that the Republican Party follow them out on a limb time and again.

One is that this is a cynical system of people fattening their coffers and seeking airtime. That's why the avalanche of fundraising letters from FreedomWorks and other right-wing groups revved up the instant Cruz took the Senate floor Tuesday. It's a well-oiled machine fueled by resentment and constant disappointment.

The other explanation assumes that these people are all earnest, selfless and just terribly out to lunch.

It's easy for smart people to become convinced of political "truths" that are fantasy. What we're talking about is the disconnect between conservative media and conservative electoral success.

Consider that in 2012 about 125 million people voted for president. What can be the political universe for a conservative cable TV host or magazine is minuscule when it comes to a winning electorate. The top radio talk show hosts may get 10 million or 15 million listeners. The idea that they are representative of the electorate, the GOP as a whole or all conservatives is silly. Their audience is intense but, in electoral terms, tiny.

When things don't turn out as planned, excuses must be found (for example, the mainstream media, weak-kneed Republicans). But the more accurate answer is often that these views are shared by only a small minority.

This disparity is seen again and again in the stark contrast between the hard-line views in conservative media and national polling on immigration, the government shutdown and more. Yes, in some very conservative states and districts, the conservative media may be closer to the norm of all voters, but you can't build a national party on only super-red congressional districts and Southern states.

The problem extends to lawmakers. A senator may get 2,000 calls or tweets complaining about a certain position. That could be far less than 1 percent of his or her electorate. Those tweets and calls can be intimidating, and it sure seems like a lot of people are upset, but it isn't a useful guide to understanding the voting population. For that, you need reliable polling, on-the-ground familiarity with constituents and a network of reliable voices to act as an early-warning system.

I bring this up because consumers of conservative media listen, watch and read people who presume to tell them what "America thinks" and what "Republicans want." Someone like Cruz says he is the embodiment of American conservatism. Sometimes such a person presents a true measure of the electorate.

But a lot of the time he or she doesn't, as I've frequently written on immigration. Taking all of it too seriously is a mistake, and it suggests to the base that if only you speak and write clearly and loudly enough, America will accept a very, very conservative agenda. It just isn't so.

© 2013 Washington Post

28



Tea party support dwindles to near-record low

According to a Gallup poll released Thursday, fewer Americans now describe themselves as supporters of the tea party movement than did at the height of the movement in 2010. Today's 22 percent support nearly matches the record low of two years ago. Read the full Gallup survey at tinyurl.com/tbtimes-teagallup

Percent of those who responded that they support the tea party.

2011



































31



30



30



32



30



25



27



21



21



26



24



22



26



26



2012



2013

Comments
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17