By Minna Jaffery
Last week, presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered a speech to the NAACP about his platform. Although his audience at the NAACP booed him for many of his remarks, he proved that he is a candidate who refuses to compromise his platform to gain votes.
While this refusal to bend will certainly attract conservatives, it negatively affects his chances of swaying moderates. The recent jump in unemployment numbers has many citizens reconsidering who they will vote for in this upcoming election, but Romney’s staunch preservation of his heavily conservative platform will not win over the slightly more liberal moderates.
Unfortunately for Romney, his victory will also depend heavily on how many moderate voters he can win over, especially those who are part of the Republican Party. Approximately one third of the Republican Party considers themselves to be moderate; this one third did not support Romney when he was running against the likes of Newt Gingrich, and they so far have no reason to support him now.
Moderates have been hesitant to accept Romney as a suitable alternative to President Obama, mainly because Romney refuses to find any middle ground between liberal and conservative approaches to big issues. From the economy to family planning initiatives, Romney and President Obama disagree on almost every issue. Both candidates have stood firm on their policies since they entered the race, and this seems unlikely to change any time soon. As a result, if Romney wants to win the election, compromising may be something he needs to consider for an extra edge over Obama.
Let’s take the healthcare plan as an example. The new healthcare plan has polarized voters, but Romney’s pledge to “eliminate expensive non-essential programs like Obamacare” hasn’t swayed moderates to his side either. While he previously alienated potential moderate voters by flip-flopping on his healthcare stance, Romney’s scrap-all proposal doesn’t please them either, especially because of his previous introduction of a universal healthcare law in Massachusetts. As many have pointed out, Romney has “flip-flopped” between his more moderate policies and his staunchly Republication platform, which continues to displease the moderate voters he needs to win over.
Being at either end of the political spectrum is dangerous territory as it leaves little room for negotiation. It remains unclear as to whether Romney’s firm platform will win more conservative votes than it will deter the moderate vote, but there is the risk of both happening. Because Romney refuses to back down from his platforms, even when facing a tough crowd like the NAACP, conservative voters trust that he will carry out the reforms that he has promised. But moderates are still in a tough situation as both Romney and Obama are unwilling to compromise, meaning that in order to win Romney may need to compromise first.
Although Romney is considered to be a moderate-conservative by the GOP, Senator John McCain was too, and the previous election showed that given a choice, moderates will veer towards the more liberal candidate. But did his speech and recent rhetoric really accomplish anything at all? Sure, he may have gained a few conservative votes, but he also may have lost some moderate votes. In the end, it may be that Romney has netted zero votes from his campaign statements at and following the NAACP.