Chart of the Day: Voters and the Culture Wars

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Dave Weigel looks at the latest Pew poll asking voters which issues they care about, and concludes that Mitch Daniels was right: Republicans need to declare a truce on social issues and focus instead on the economy.

Republicans won in 2010 because voters focused on economics. Mitt Romney got himself declared “electable” because he focused on economics and auto-penned the social issues pledges when he needed to. And Romney swears that the new social issue/abortion/contraception flare-ups — brought on, typically, by Republican legislators — are distractions. They certainly look that way. They distract from the issues he can win on.

Of course, candidates don’t always get to decide which issues the rest of the country is going to focus on. My guess is that Romney wishes all the contraception and related “mommy war” issues had never cropped up in the first place, but that wasn’t his call to make. And once the issue was in play, he had little choice but to take the kinds of positions that please the most militant members of his tea party base.

On the bright side for Romney, though, just because voters say they don’t care about social issues this year doesn’t mean they really don’t care. And not every culture war issue will necessarily end up benefiting the Democrats, as the contraception debate seems to have. They won’t seem like distractions anymore if the next eruption turns into something that actively helps the Romney campaign.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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