That’s a good idea as long as the reaching out carries the same message with the same values and principles as does the reaching out to all other Americans. There’s no reason to think that the old virtues of free enterprise, limited government and low taxes are passé or that a majority of Americans, if they are informed by the right candidate, will not buy into that message.
Let’s take the example of Ronald Reagan. He won with his optimism and unshakable faith in individual liberty and the inherent goodness of the American people; his devotion to as little government and lowest taxes as possible. Especially did his optimism and belief in his fellow citizens come through. It also helped that he could write and deliver speeches that connected with people.
What seems to be lost in the soul-searching is what should be a glaring fact: the personality of the nominee for president is of paramount importance to the voters and can even trump major issues. President Barack Obama demonstrates this fact. His approval rating has stayed at or above 50 percent in the polls regardless of lower ratings on specific issues such as the economy.
The question of how much personality affects presidential elections has been researched by TV journalist and author Bernard Goldberg. On his website he says:
“When I look back at the presidential elections from the last thirty years, I do notice a certain consistency, but not one supported by mathematical statistics. The pattern I see is that the general election candidate with the most appealing personality has always won. I don’t see a single exception.”
To make his case, Goldberg pointed to the experienced and — most people would say — qualified candidates who lost. Among them: Democrats Walter Mondale, Al Gore and John Kerry. They certainly had experience but fell short in personality. On the Republican side, Bob Dole and John McCain lost for basically the same reason despite their extensive political experience and qualifications.
A year before the 2012 election, Goldberg predicted that if Mitt Romney became the Republican nominee, the contest would be “the Charmer in Chief versus the Disciplined Professional.” Although both were strong, articulate speakers and debaters, Goldberg said, “One can’t deny that Obama has a distinct advantage in the personality department.” That proved true.
Still, the deciding factor probably was the vicious, dirty smear campaign of half-truths and lies by the Obama campaign, compounded by Romney’s miscues, notably his comment that 47 percent of Americans were dependent on government and would vote for Obama “no matter what.”
The bottom line: Republicans need to field a candidate who not only stands for their basic principles, but also has an appealing personality, strong speech-making skills and the ability to communicate deep faith in America and a vision that “the best is yet to come.”