had sought to pull a once solidly Democratic South into thernRepublican column, Kemp explicitly repudiated it. “All toornoften in the past,” he told the Boston Globe in September,rn”we’ve had that Southern strategy that said we want to go afterrnthe white vote, and had better not try to get black votes becausernit might lose white votes. That is shameful. Shameful.” Kemprndid not want merely to attract more blacks to the party but tornforge them into the base of the party. Speaking of the Northernrnblack urban voting bloc, he said, “It’s not the Republicanrnbase, but it should be.”rnNo one could quarrel with Kemp’s desire to bring morernblacks into the party, but he never seems to grasp that, to accomplishrnthis goal, the party would have to abandon a numberrnof issues and policies that have enabled it to win both Southernrnwhites and Northern working-class voters over the last tworndecades. In saying explicitly that the Southern strategy wasrn”shameful,” a moral as well as a political error, Kemp (and hisrnparty) were openly turning against the very voting groups thatrnhave put Republicans in office from the days of Nixon to thosernof Newt Gingrich.rnAs for Dole, he immediately renounced his own partv’srnplank on immigration and seldom if ever referred to abortionrnagain after the primaries. Given the salience of those issues tornrank-and-file Middle American Republican voters—of immigrationrnin Galifornia and several border states of the West, andrnof abortion to the “religious right” that today makes up about arnthird of Republican voting strength—it was clear that the nomineerneither misunderstood the very voters to whom he was appealingrnor was deliberately seeking to move the party in a radicallyrndifferent direction. On affirmative action, while Dole as arnsenator had sponsored a bill to abolish it at the federal level, herndistanced himself from the bill in his latter days as MajorityrnLeader and failed to make it an issue except in the last desperaternweeks of the presidential campaign in California.rnAs noted, the November exit polls show that the Dole-Kemprnticket lost key national constituencies that Republicans—evenrnlosers like Gerald Ford—had carried from 1972 through 1988.rnIndeed, the latter year, when George Bush’s campaign presentedrnitself as the natural heir to Ronald Reagan and Lee Atwaterrnbrought immortality to Willie Horton, was the last in which thernMiddle Americans rallied to the Republican banner. By 1992,rnwith Atwater dead and the Bush campaign run by professionalrnRepublicans and Beltway courtiers. Middle Americans were deserting,rnfirst to Pat Buchanan in the early primaries, then tornRoss Perot in the general election. The same trend was apparentrnin 1996, though Perot proved to be a spent force, and PresidentrnClinton in both campaigns was careful to present himselfrnas the champion of the beleaguered middle class and an enemyrnof crime. Clinton too failed to mobilize the passions that animaternthe Middle American soul, but the image he and his spinnersrndesigned at least avoided doing or saying much to alienaternsuch souls and drive them to Dole or Perot. It is all very well tornsay that Perot in both 1992 and 1996 took votes from Bush andrnDole and that the Texan’s campaign was a major reason forrntheir defeat, but the point is that neither Perot nor any otherrnthird party candidate could have harmed them had they retainedrnthe confidence of the Middle American constituencies.rnThe exit polls of 1996 can be compared to what, for the purposesrnof this article, I will call the “NFR average,” the averagernvote won by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and RonaldrnReagan in the presidential elections of 1972, 1976, and 1980rnand 1984, in certain poll categories that are sociologically associatedrnwith Middle Americans—racial, ideological, regional, religious,rnincome, and size of place. The same comparison canrnalso be constructed for 1988, the last year of Middle AmericanrnGOP loyalty, and 1996. What these comparisons show is thatrnthe Bush, Dole, and Kemp camps are steadily losing the basernvote of the Republican Party and are leading the party towardrneventual political suicide at the national level. (The exit pollrnstatistics can be found in the New York Times of November 10,rn1996.)rnThus, while Jack Kemp may regard Republican appeals tornwhite voters as “shameful,” white voters supported Nixon, Ford,rnand Reagan (the NFR average) from 1972 through 1984 as wellrnas George Bush in 1988 by more than 59 percent. But whitesrnsupported the Bush of 1992 and the Dole of 1996 by only 40rnand 46 percent respectively. Whites in the South supportedrnNixon, Ford, and Reagan by a whopping 65 percent and Bush inrn1988 by an even larger 67 percent, but in l996 white Southernrnsupport for Dole had dropped to 56 percent, up from Bush’srneven worse showing of 49 percent in 1992. (Nor was the presencernof a white Southerner on the Democratic ticket an adequaternexplanation; Clinton in 1992 and 1996 won only 34 andrn36 percent of the white Southerner vote, only marginally betterrnthan Dukakis’s 32 percent in 1988.) Nationally, white menrnwent for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan by more than 60 percent andrnBush in 1988 by 63 percent, but only a pitiful 40 percent wentrnfor Bush in 1992 and 49 percent for Dole in 1996.rnIdeologically, those voters who identify themselves as “conservatives”rnwere also zealous for Republican presidential candidatesrnfrom the 1970’s through the I980’s. The NFR averagernfrom 1972 through 1984 was more than 74 percent. But Bushrnin 1992 received only 64 percent of the “conservative” vote, thernlowest in recent history, while Dole was able to pull it up to 71rnpercent. Since virtually no self-described conservative was goingrnto vote for Clinton and only a handful of eccentrics for Perot,rnand since Jack Kemp continued to enjoy a favorable press inrnmost conservative media. Dole was able to keep pace with hisrnRepublican predecessors, but not at quite the same level.rnRegionally, both Bush in 1992 and Dole last year lost significantrnsupport in key Republican strongholds, the South and thernWest (Dole actually lost Arizona, which had not gone Democraticrnin a presidential election since 1948, as well as California,rneven though the state is the birthplace of Jack Kemp). Fromrn1972 through 1984, the NFR average for the South and thernWest was 57 percent and 55 percent respectively, and for Bushrnin 1988 it was 58 and 52 percent. In 1992 Bush won 43 percentrnof the Southern vote and only 24 percent of the Western, whilernin 1996 Dole performed only marginally better in the Southrnwith 46 percent and considerably better in the West (but 15rnpoints behind his predecessors of the 1970’s and 1980’s) at 40rnpercent.rnThe same pattern is clear in categories of religious identification.rnAmong both white Protestants and Roman Catholics,rnNixon, Ford, and Reagan gained some of their strongest support.rnThe NFR average for white Protestants is 67 percent andrnfor Catholics 50 percent from 1972 through 1984. Bush inrn1988 won 66 percent of the white Protestant vote and 52 percentrnof the Catholics but in 1992 took a mere 47 percent ofrnwhite Protestants and a measly 35 percent of Catholics, while inrn1996 Dole and Kemp managed to capture 53 percent of whiternProtestants and only slightly improved their standing withrnCatholics at 37 percent. Incidentally, Kemp’s militant loyaltyrn16/CHRONICLESrnrnrn