How conservative are Republican primary voters, really?

Okay. So let me be the first to say that I do not like to agree with S.V. (don’t call me Sharish) Dáte of the Palm Beach Post. He has to be among the most liberal reporters in the Tallahassee press corps – and I am none to sure of the ‘objectivity’ in his reporting.

But today he has two stories on which I do agree: Gallagher’s strategy of playing to the right is wrong route and Politicos see Gallagher’s ethics scrapes as grist for Crist to protect huge lead.

In the first article, Dáte points out that Gallagher has been campaigning hard for the conservative base. His campaign has bragged about ‘microtargeting’. His commercials focus on his family, and he has one now that is chock full of red meat for Christian conservatives: abortion, adult billboards, gay marriage, and more. Still, he trails Crist by 30 points in the independent polls, and by more than 20 points in his own internal polling.

How can this be?

First, I will say that Dáte managed to get a great quote from former Republican Party of Florida chairman Tom Slade: “I think the tolerance of the Republican Party for the intolerance of the Religious Right is wearing thin.” Amazing.

Second, I would add that most people are more libertarian than conservative. That means the tagline of “less government, less taxes, less regulation, more freedom” (first espoused by former Senator Connie Mack and carried forward this year by Charlie Crist) is the true mantra of those registered in the Republican party.

The second article picks up on Gallagher’s ethics charges. I’ve written about this, but Dáte
and Brian Crowley show the real effect on Gallagher’s campaign:

“It makes the hill a whole lot steeper to climb,” said former Florida GOP Chairman Tom Slade, an early Gallagher supporter.

Slade said that, if the Crist campaign decides to use the ethics commission finding against Gallagher, there would be little Gallagher could do to respond. “It’s rough to defend yourself against,” he said.

The timing of the report, just weeks before the Sept. 5 primary, also is a problem, Slade said.

“It ain’t ever good news,” Slade said. “But a month or so before the election, that’s even worse news.”

So, how will Gallagher spend his limited resources from this point forward? Continue a failing strategy? Try to defend himself from himself?

I’m willing to bet, now – more than a month before the election, that Gallagher’s advisors have made a major error in judgement. The primary voters are not as conservative as they thought.

And neither is the rest of the state.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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