Home > Tim Pawlenty > Bridging the Divide

Bridging the Divide

So I have a post over at Race42012 noting Pawlenty’s savvy new PAC and PAC-team.  Read it (though you probably came from there anyway).  But, I’d like to get into a little bit more analysis here.  Basically, the piece notes that Pawlenty has made big dents with both establishment Republicans and the grassrootsy Republican web-mavens like Patrick Ruffini.  This doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve been saying…well, since at least January, that Pawlenty’s greatest strength is his ability to be a bridge between the heartland and the headland (DC).  Every successful GOP candidate, and practically every successful Presidential candidate, has managed to straddle that line. 

Think of 43.  Yalie son of Connecticut Yankee, become twanging oil-barron and baseball owner.  Think of Bill.  Blue-Collar Southerner become Rhodes Scholar Yalie.  Think of 41.  Connecticut blue-blood become World War II hero.  It’s almost impossible to unify your party and win the Presidency without this sort of straddling.  Obama JUST managed it and only locked down the blue-collar vote after the financial collapse.  Before that, despite essentially maxing out margins with white-collar voters, young voters, intellectuals, and blacks, he looked like a bare favorite during the most Democratic year since 1964. 

I like Mitt Romney and think he’d make a fine President.  I love Sarah Palin and I think she makes an exemplary citizen.  But, neither one is going to be able to straddle that divide.  Certainly, they won’t manage it without wrecking their appeal outside the party.  Pawlenty can.  He can cultivate young voters and grassroots types, while still impressing guys like Terry Nelson and Alex Conant.  Something to keep in mind.

  1. MWS
    October 1, 2009 at 2:01 pm


    I think you are absolutely right. Obama barely did enough, and when you consider how unimpressive his margin was in context (financial meltdown, GOP meltdown, unpopular war, fawning media, historical signifance, etc… etc….), it further proves your point, I think. If Obama had a true heartland connection (and no, the Daley Machine is NOT the heartland), he would have had a landslide to match ’84 or ’64.

    Huck has the heartland connection, but lacks the DC connection, which I think is part of the reason his fundraising still ranges from anemic to poor. Palin has far too many people who like her as a citizen (like me) but fear her as a nominee or President (though I’d take her over Obama any day of the week).

    Pawlenty is that bridgebuilder. He can bridge FiCons and SoCons, the heartland and DC, good government independents and the base.

  2. October 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    ” Pawlenty has made big dents with both establishment Republicans and the grassrootsy Republican web-mavens like Patrick Ruffini.”

    I could not agree more on Pawlenty’s appeal and have written on this fact.

    where we disagree is on Ruffini. He is establishment.

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