The Corner

Republicans and The Inner Suburbs

As far as I can tell from this article, Rep. Mark Kirk thinks that the key to increasing the Republican share of the vote in inner-ring suburbs is to talk up ideas that poll well in those suburbs: e.g., “the use of federal databases for background checks on teachers and a federal law requiring filters to block pornography on computers in schools and libraries.” (John McLaughlin is a smart pollster, though, so maybe there’s more to it than that.)

But several of these ideas seem unlikely to actually move anyone to vote Republican. Some of them are the kind of thing that many people favor but none care deeply about; some of them are the kind of thing that Democrats could just as easily adopt as Republicans. To be the “defining issues to win the suburbs and keep our Republican majority,” as Kirk puts it, they would have to both mark a distinction between the parties and actually motivate voters. Talking about these policies might marginally help incumbents (of both parties) in inner-ring suburbs, but probably won’t accomplish much more than that.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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