The Republican Party's Rape Problem

by Michael Morris Hurt

From time to time, the Awl offers its space to members of the community with an interesting viewpoint on current events. Today we hear from a Republican party strategist who is concerned with the party’s recent difficulties at the federal level.

This morning, and over the next few days, you will see a lot of conversation about the ways in which the Republican party needs to change if it wants to return to being a successful power in national politics. While there will be a number of arguments about demographics, economic opportunity and social outreach, it seems pretty clear that the most important thing the Republican party needs to do is make sure that the American public is considerably less aware of our obsession with rape.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we were beaten fair and square. When I predicted that Mitt Romney would win 315 electoral votes I might have been right on the fundamentals, but I was wrong on a lot of other important factors: the clear difference between national and state election polls, the Obama campaign’s ability to turn out the early vote, an intense focus on target-state mechanics. These all played a role in the Republican loss. But another contributing factor to the Obama victory is the fact the people see us as the party of rape, and that is no longer the net positive it used to be.

Look, in this environment with this economy and all the gravely important matters pressing against the very existence of this country, it should have been a tsunami election. It should have been a landslide that sent President Obama into the dust heap of failed presidencies. Instead, the election was about rape, and not in the good way we’ve come to expect. If you drill down on the numbers, every election until 2008 shows a significant advantage for the Republicans, as the party of rape, among pro-rape voters. It is no accident that political scientists have come up with the phrase “culture of rape” to describe one of the key demographics that has been a fundamental building block for our electoral coalition: We are a party that loves rape. We love rape as much, if not more, than we hate the idea of women having control over their own bodies. We CANNOT GET ENOUGH RAPE. Even just hearing the word makes us salivate.

So where did we go wrong? This is a difficult idea to consider, but some of the data seems to indicate that the American public is, at least at the margins, slightly less enamored with the concept of rape than we as a party are. In fact — and this is hard to believe, but many of the models we have run seem to bear it out — there are several elements among the electorate (college-educated professionals, homosexuals, havers of vaginas) that tend to view rape as a bad, or at least not good, thing. You can blame political correctness or our crumbling educational system or the fact that people are no longer willing to judge what a woman is dressed like when she is clearly asking for it, but the fact is those rape votes are going, and they are unlikely to return.

What, then, is the solution? After a loss of this magnitude the more conservative elements of the party will be tempted to double down on rape. “It is rape that got us here,” they will say, “and if we turn our backs on rape we will never be able to force ourselves on the public again. We need to ram home, no matter how unwanted some say it is, that we are the party of rape. Rape rape rape rape rape.” While I am sympathetic to this viewpoint, any rational reading of the results seems to show that not only can we not rely on rape to get us over anymore, but we have to pretend that we, at the very least, are no longer fully lustful for rape to happen to all those women in the nation who need a lesson taught to them.

It is perhaps still too early to determine how we best avoid this subject with the general population. In the coming months those of us on the analytical side of the party will convene a number of focus groups to figure out the most effective code words and signals we can use to indicate to our core base of rape lovers that we are still wildly pro-rape, while not alerting the rest of the country that the Republican party is, above all, a party that loves rape. Like, cannot get enough rape. Needs rape deep in the fiber of its being. In the meantime, I suggest we change the focus by making a concerted effort to demonize Hispanics. I mean, that’s a sure-fire winner, right?

Republican pollster Michael Morris Hurt, like all Republicans, loves rape and hates poor people.