Appeal to the Base, Lose Everyone Else

by John Vuotto

Widener University Political Science Major

There have been plenty of televised Republican Presidential debates in this primary season. Usually the main topics are the obvious choices; the economy, jobs, foreign policy, etc. A big portion of Wednesday’s debate and the current GOP race as a whole has been focused on women and contraception.

Surely issues such as abortion and the use of contraception are very important to Conservative Republican voters, but they could get the candidates in trouble. If electability is a main quality that Republican voters are looking for in a candidate, the champion of these issues, Rick Santorum, could find himself in big trouble in a general election.

Santorum has always been openly pro-life and now this is being highlighted in the Republican race. This seems to be a time when all of the candidates are trying to appeal to the base to prove they are the most “Conservative” candidate. Recently, Newt Gingrich, referring to the Obama administration pushing more fuel-efficient cars, said “You can’t put a gun rack in a [Chevy] Volt.”

This kind of rhetoric can certainly hurt whichever candidate comes out of the Republican field. Many voters, women in particular, may be put-off by some of Senator Santorum’s beliefs on the use of contraception and abortion. If the GOP candidates want to win the very important Independent vote, they need to be more careful when trying to appeal to the base. In today’s world of 24 news and cameras everywhere, anything the candidates say can come back to bite them. Senator Santorum is on a hot streak right now but with more talk of his strong positions on contraception, it could cost him.

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