Monday, October 22, 2007

What might happen if Giuliani wins

There have obviously been plenty of stories the last few weeks about the possibility that the theocons will run a 3rd Party candidate if Giuliani wins the Republican nomination. There has also been plenty of speculation (denied by the Ron Paul campaign) that Ron Paul could mount a third party candidacy after he uses the primaries to boost his name recognition. Even if Ron Paul does not mount a third party candidacy, his nomination campaign will likely have succeeded in creating a potentially permanent and irreconcilable divide between the libertarian wing of the party and the neocons.

Should there be two third party campaigns from the traditional Republican coalition (and assuming Hillary gets the Democratic nomination), we could be faced with the most historic election in many decades. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the theocon candidate captures 10% of the overall vote, just about all of which would come from traditional Republican voters. In addition, let us say that Ron Paul captures 15% of the overall vote, with 2/3 of that coming from libertarian Republicans. These assumptions, I think, are pretty realistic given anti-war sentiment, the typical voting cohesiveness of the theocons, and the fact that Giuliani and Hillary are the libertarian anti-Christs.

This would mean that Giuliani would get- at best, I think- 25-30% of the vote in the general election. A performance of that nature would almost certainly have serious and long-lasting effects on the Republican Party. What kinds of effects? I think the possibilities are:
1. Complete disintegration, a la the Whigs post-1852. This is certainly a possibility, especially if the Republican Party does nothing in response to this (hypothetical) historically bad performance. This is most likely to happen if the Party just blames the election on the ever-popular BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome), resulting in the formation of at least one somewhat viable third party that would ultimately drain the Republican Party.
2. The Republican Party is forced to completely re-invent itself as essentially a reincarnation of the Old Right in an attempt to entice the theo-cons and libertarians back into the fold. This would most closely parallel the response to the 1976 election, which of course led to the nomination of Reagan in 1980. Depending on Hillary's governing philosophy (which I suspect will not be much different from the neo-cons), this scenario could center on the Republicans turning themselves into very much a pure anti-war party, dumping the neo-cons in the process while bringing on board a bunch of angry Progressives.
3. The Republicans concede to additional "Campaign Finance Reform" in the name of "preventing corruption." As with previous Campaign Finance Reform, this would result in making life even more difficult for independent candidates, and would safeguard the Republicans from needing to do very much at all to keep their status in American politics.
4. Ron Paul makes a significant enough impact in the primaries that, when Giuliani goes down in flames, Paul becomes a major voice within the Party. By "significant," I mean 15-20% of the vote, which seems quite unlikely right now. This results in a scenario where the Republican Party is essentially pushed back to its positions of 1992-1994.

I'm sure there are plenty of other possibilities. All I know, though, is that a showing of 25-30% by a major party in this day and age would be catastrophic for that party. This is particularly true where almost all of the third party voting would be coming from that party's traditional base (contrary to popular belief, Perot voters in 1992 were almost as likely to be taken out of Clinton's support as Bush's).