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Twilight or Breaking Dawn?
Win or lose, we are in the twilight of the Age of Reagan.


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Henry Olsen

The other swing states — Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin — will be decided by the Catholic and Lutheran blue-collar vote. Failure to break through here will cost Romney these states.

Minnesota and Pennsylvania, the two latest states to appear on the Romney radar, will also fail to move. The Catholic and Lutheran votes are also key to these states, they both are historically slightly more Democratic than the four states listed above, and there is no consistent evidence that anything has changed. I suspect the last-minute advertising and visits to those states by Romney and Ryan is a reflection that with one week to go, they needed to do the political equivalent of throwing into deep coverage. Like most such efforts, their drive will probably fall short.

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Sunlight at Dusk
I started this analysis by asking if conservatives faced twilight or dawn. I’ve shown how Wednesday could be a bright morning, but it is likely to bring twilight. But twilight is found twice a day, so conservatives, like Benjamin Franklin at the dawn of America, must ask themselves if we face a rising or a setting sun.

Win or lose, we are in the twilight of the Age of Reagan. Romney’s efforts have almost recreated the Reagan coalition, but in today’s America that is no longer enough. To prevail in 2014 and beyond, the Republican party will need to learn to adapt its principles to new times and new voters.

Echoing Rabbi Hillel, Reagan summoned conservatives to action with two related questions: If not us, who? If not now, when? We must take on this challenge anew as we undertake our rendezvous with destiny and remake the conservative majority Reagan bequeathed to us.

To do that, we must also ask and answer two other questions. If we didn’t, why? If we must, how? I believe we can and will answer these questions, as painful as the discussion amongst us will be at times, and I believe that regardless of what happens tomorrow, the American sun will rise and set with conservatism. For there is nothing wrong with conservatism that reapplication of conservative principles won’t solve, and there is nothing wrong with America that rededication to conservative principles won’t cure.

— Henry Olsen is a vice president of the American Enterprise Institute.



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