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Is Consensus Building the New Wedge Issue Politics?


If California Republicans did not invent wedge issue politics, they certainly perfected the practice of using controversial issues to drive their voters to the polls. However, the goose may have laid its last golden egg, as the party learned last fall with the failure of its parental notification on abortion measure. Instead, GOP leaders are looking to place consenus-building measures on the November 2006 ballot.
At the last meeting of the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Republican Party (of which, for full disclosure, I am a member), pollster Steve Kinney of Public Opinion Strategies presented the findings of a recent statewide survey on the issues which drive voters towards certain candidates and political parties.
Predictably, Kinney found that Republicans cared a lot about immigration and controlling spending, while Democrats cared about spending more money on schools and protecting the right to abort their unborn children. None of these issues would do much to move the ever-growing crowd of decline-to-state voters in California.
There are, however, a handful of issues about which all Californians feel passionately, according to Kinney:

Each of these issues received a 10/10 from more than 65% of respondents when asked how important they were to California voters.
Although it may seem like all the State GOP is offering up in 2006 is immigrant bashing—either as racist, round-’em-up rhetoric or attacking Governor Schwarzenegger’s more centrist proclivities—it seems that, lo and behold, the Party has gotten the message and will be focusing on these very issues come November!
State Assemblywoman Sharon Runner and her husband George are working on a Jessica’s Law initiative to impose further restrictions on sex offenders. State Senator Chuck Poochigian, who’s running for Attorney General, has a measure in the works on Identity Theft. Senator Tom McClintock, the presumptive nominee for Lt. Governor, is working on a ballot measure to limit the use of eminent domain. And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing an infrastructure bond with heavy doses of school construction money in it.
While some California Republicans don’t seem to have learned from the mistakes of their past, it is pretty clear that the party leadership—and those who will represent the top of the ticket—will be looking to appeal to the political center as their election strategy for 2006.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 11:51 AM | Permalink

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