by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest Bloomberg Businessweek documents the efforts among some national business groups to oust Republican members of Congress who are particularly popular with Tea Party groups.
While the business community may recoil from Tea Party excesses, Republican voters generally do not. A July Pew Research Center survey of Republicans found that Tea Party supporters make up half of primary voters and significantly outnumber moderates. And while Republican voters disagree about which direction the party should take, more of them would like it to become more conservative (54 percent) than more moderate (40 percent). A subsequent poll showed the shutdown did not shake these voters’ resolve.
“I think we are the true business wing of the party,” says Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America (and a Stanford Graduate School of Business alum), which helped organize the GOP push to defund Obamacare. “Most Americans intuitively know something’s wrong when the only way you can get a fair hearing in Washington is if you hire scores of lobbyists. We’re the ones that represent free enterprise and entrepreneurship.”
Then there’s the matter of just how compelling voters would find a candidate explicitly identified with national business groups. As a lavish source of political money, business leaders are always popular in Washington. But five years after the financial collapse, they remain toxic with most voters. Remarkably, while an April Allstate/National Journal poll found that only 17 percent of respondents thought Republican elected officials were “making things better for middle-class Americans,” CEOs of major corporations fared even worse (15 percent).
It’s good to know that voters seem to hold no high regard for cronyism.