- - Monday, June 9, 2014

Although the 2014 election cycle is just getting started for the dwindling number of Americans still taking their civic duty seriously, the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will be underway in my state only six months from now.

Within Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state, potential GOP presidential candidates are already reaching out to people like me and surveying the landscape. Sen. Marco Rubio was just here for our U.S. Senate primary, as was Texas Governor Rick Perry. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the keynote speaker at a gathering of Christian conservatives in May. Texas Senator Ted Cruz landed the coveted keynote speaking slot in front of Iowa’s politically active home-school community earlier this spring. A group very influential in the caucuses.

With Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joni Ernst in a winnable race this fall against Rep. Bruce Braley, expect potential 2016 Republican presidential standard-bearers to try and use her statewide campaign as a launching pad for their own. Ms. Ernst should have no problem attracting national GOP star power on the campaign trail.

So what are Iowa conservatives looking for?

After suffering through two straight presidential election losses, and losing the popular vote in five of the last six, even conservatives are now talking about “electability.” Of course, conservatives have a different idea of what that term means than the ruling class in Washington, D.C.

For the beltway ruling class, “electability” has two meanings:

1) Only the ruling class itself gets to actually define it.

2) Only candidates willing to uphold the current corporatist vs. Marxist status quo in both parties’ leadership can possibly get elected, lest the gravy train be threatened.

But what does “electability” mean for conservatives? Is there a blueprint for conservatives to follow so that we can avoid the Republican Party establishment snatching defeat from the jaws of victory yet again?

History says yes.

Since the rise of Ronald Reagan and the modern conservative movement along with it in 1976, every national election won by the GOP has followed the same template. Republicans win not by ignoring demographics or pandering to them. Republicans win by tailoring their principles to those demographics.

That begins in the primary, where the demographics favor movement conservatives. The last two GOP presidential nominees failed to obtain a majority of primary votes until after their last serious competitor left the race. That’s because neither John McCain nor Mitt Romney were movement conservatives. Once their last true challenger departed the race, conservatives essentially decided “if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with.”

Except on Election Day each had a difficult time turning out their base. For example, in 2012, Mr. Romney won those coveted independents Karl Rove obsesses over by 11 points in Virginia, 10 points in Ohio, and 4 points in Colorado. Yet he still lost every one of those key battleground states. Why? Because President Obama did a better job turning out his base. True, you can’t win with just your base. But you can’t win without it either.

As the culture moves to the Left, the base of the Republican Party is moving further to the Right. Many believe that puts the GOP’s national candidates in a bit of a bind , fighting a two-front war between a base that wants leadership on conservative principles while trying to win votes from those who don’t.

That’s a false choice.

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