For many Republicans it was a shock to lose the general election, but for others it has opened the way to speak freely about new directions.
Over the last week four Republican members of Congress have publicly declared they would break the pledge they made to Grover Norquist’s anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform.
The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is over 20 years old, a majority of House Republicans signing the oath to never raise taxes in any form.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) was the first to break, announcing Wednesday, Nov. 21, that he was more concerned about preventing the “fiscal cliff” than breaking Norquist’s anti-tax pact.
“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” Chambliss told Georgia television network 13WMAZ. “If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
He was followed on Sunday, by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).
“I think Grover is wrong when it comes to ‘We can’t cap deductions and buy down debt,’” Graham said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.”
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said economic conditions had changed since he signed the bill years ago. Now “everything should be on the table. … We should not be taking ironclad positions,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
On Monday morning, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) joined the rebels, telling CBS’s Charlie Rose that he was “not obligated to the pledge.”
Political analysts say the rebellion suggests a new mood, Republican congressmen now more willing to chart their own course away from the current Republican Party line.
“Republicans will need to appeal to a wider range of people if they hope to be successful on the national level.”
–Jennifer Marsico, political analyst
“A party in a weakened position tends to show more willingness to compromise,” said Jennifer Marsico, political analyst with Washington-based think tank American Enterprise Institute. “I expect more acts like this to take place in the weeks and months to come.”
Loss a shock
For many Republicans, losing to President Barack Obama came out of the blue. National polls predicted a close race, some with a resounding win for Romney.
As it was, Romney won decisively among older groups leading Obama by 4 points in age group 45 to 65 years and by 12 points in those over 65, according to exit polls collated by the Pew Research Center. Romney also led Obama in the male vote and won the white vote by 20 points.
The former Massachusetts governor was so sure of a win he only prepared a victory speech for election night, advisers say.
“We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,” a senior Romney adviser told CBS. “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”
What conservative pools were not telling Romney, however, was what young voters and minorities were thinking. Obama won convincingly among African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Latinos, plus women and the youth vote.
Romney pollster Neil Newhouse, from Public Opinion Strategies, said his group had been polling subgroups but had not accounted for increases in those populations in some key states. The African American population in Ohio, for example, had increased 4 percent since 2008. “No one predicted that,” he said in a phone interview.
A memo from the company also outlined adjustments to their polling strategy in regards to the youth vote going forward.
“As a part of the Republican polling community, our prescription includes doing at least one-third of the interviews with cellphone respondents going forward, adjusting as required, ensuring that we include enough younger voters in our sampling, and (in many cases) polling until the final weekend of the campaign,” the memo said according to the Washington Post.
For many, the GOP’s failure to acknowledge different demographics was its biggest failing.
“Republicans will need to appeal to a wider range of people if they hope to be successful on the national level,” said Marsico. “They have to be a party of inclusion.”
For some GOP congressman that may have already been evident.
Cuban born, Sen. Marc Rubio (R-Fla.) a rising star in the party, issued a bold statement just hours after Romney’s concession speech. In it he reframed his party’s position on illegal immigrants, that position seen as significant in Romney’s failure to gain a majority of Hispanic support.
“The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them,” he said.
The same week, House Speaker John Boehner also expressed an interest in immigration reform telling ABC News, “A comprehensive approach is long overdue.”
How much a change of heart in Republican circles will affect coming negotiations on the fiscal cliff remains to be seen. Rep. Peter King may offer some insight, saying on NBC, “We have to show the world we’re adults.”
“The election’s over,” King continued. “Get Obama and the congressional leaders in a room. That’s what representative government should be about. No one gets all their way.”
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.