ElectionDissection strolled down to the offices of Americans for Tax Reform for the latest in the series of Newsmaker Breakfasts hosted by the American Spectator. The “newsmaker” on hand was Saul Anuzis, the Michigan Republican Party chairman who earned the Paultards’ enduring animus by calling for Ron Paul’s exclusion from Republican presidential primary season debates after his symbiotically beneficial contretemps over 9/11 blowback with fmr. NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani in
Despite the fact that its Congressional delegation has been shrinking in recent rounds of redistricting and expects to at the next census,
Anuzis highlighted his vision for harnessing new media to facilitate disseminating the GOP’s message. (Best line: “This is not your average Republican twitter page!” Oxymoron of the week: “Republican twitter page!”) And he repeatedly harkened back to the fabled “Reagan Democrat,” citing appealing to this once-decisive voting bloc as the key to a Republican resurgence. Suburban
“Reagan Democrats,” of course were those Northern, often-ethnic and heavily Catholic, white working class voters who were lured away from their ancestral Democratic moorings by GOP appeals to their conservative opinions on moral issues, busing and crime and Cold War hawkishness. But many of these voters were proud union men (and women) who couldn’t swallow even Ronald Reagan’s free trade agenda. This was especially acute in Macomb Co.,
While social conservatism can be found in
Only an underwhelming performance in
And in this year’s Republican presidential primary, Mike Huckabee scored well in Dutch-settled southwestern Michigan where his social conservatism no doubt resonated with the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church-goers. But, his economic populism seems to have struck a cord here, too. The area’s Dutch-American U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra was the only Michigander Republican to oppose NAFTA back in ’93. Huckabee’s populist notes also played among Yoopers, too, in the
But Michigan’s stunted population growth has frozen the smaller, broken rust belt cities like Saginaw, Flint, Muskegon and Bay City, where Wallace, Buchanan and Perot exploited white working class anxiety, as well as both the U.P. and the Dutch southwest where Huckabee found a base far above the Mason-Dixon Line.
Macomb is growing, but still totals far behind Oakland’s population. (Besides, Obama captured the county comfortably, flipping the narrow win G.W. eked out in 2004.) Contrast Macomb to its fellow Detroit suburb, Oakland County. Once home to Midwestern,
Building on a question from Economist.com blogger Dave Weigel suggesting the GOP's appeals to socially conservative voters and anti-immigrant demagoguing had aliented electorates in similar suburban counties nationwide, ElectionDissection questioned Anuzis about whether his strategy for staving off further losses in Oakland included toning down the economic populism that hasn't been a vote-winner there – especially in light of a Big Three bailout that may play well in his state, but not among the Southern-anchored grassroots of the party he wants lead - his answer focused more on this blog’s analysis of Michigan’s political geography than his thoughts on recasting the Republican message. But Anuzis did offer some interesting off-the-cuff insight into shifting intra-state demographics – UAW retirees, for instance, migrating up north to retire and the increasingly racially diverse make-up of Oakland Co.’s electorate – which offer fodder for future posts.