Politics

GOP Establishment Eschews Talk Radio at its Peril

Fortunes rise for Republican politicians who appear on 'The Laura Ingraham Show,' decline for those who shun it

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie regularly appear on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” exposing themselves to her vast conservative audience, and have enjoy rising poll numbers.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush avoid the show and are stuck in the mud.

Coincidence?

Ingraham doesn’t think so. On Tuesday, she reeled off a list of politicians who have appeared on her show to speak directly to millions of conservatives who tune in each day.

Trump, of course, has led most national polls since shortly after entering the race in the summer. Christie, dead in the water earlier in the campaign, has found new life in New Hampshire. Polling in the Granite State puts the New Jersey governor third place. And Cruz has surged into second place in national polls. The Texas senator now ranks as the favorite to win the Iowa caucuses next month.

What about the no-shows? Bush began the campaign with the name and financial backing to make him the early favorite. But he has studiously avoided Ingraham and other conservative talk show hosts. His current RealClearPolitics polling average is 3.3 percent. Rubio, whose only appearance on “The Laura Ingraham Show” since 2013 has been with a guest host, sits at 11 percent — less than a third of Trump’s support.

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Ingraham said it is not about her, but her large audience. She said Republicans who shun her audience should not be surprised to see their political fortunes fall. It is not just the presidential candidates. Congressional leaders who also have avoided the show have not done themselves any favors.

Former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is out of Congress. His former majority leader, Eric Cantor, suffered a shocking primary defeat to unknown college professor Dave Brat of Virginia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to a December Public Policy Polling survey, has a 15 percent approval rating.

Congress as a whole has an unfavorable rating of 78 percent. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also a no-show, is still in a honeymoon phase. His wins favorable marks from 38 percent of voters, while 39 percent disapprove. Still, those middling numbers are a bit down from a PPP poll in November, when 41 percent approved and 35 percent disapproved.

Perhaps the message to Establishment Republicans is if they refuse to compromise with the base on issues like immigration and trade, they could at least face a grilling on conservative talk radio once in a while.

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