Grover Norquist – A Power Behind The Throne

We’re taking a look a Grover Norquist’s writings because he is a prime mover behind the scenes in the American political arena for the Republicans.  There are many articles citing his influence, most notably about his requiring all Republican candidates to sign a pledge that they will never raise taxes. Norquist is also famous for his widely quoted comment that he wants to shrink government “down to the size where [we] can drown it in the bathtub.” Some folks argue that the tax pledge is a myth perpetrated by the left but, regardless, there seems to be a strong perception that he is extremely influential. The organization he heads, Americans For Tax Reform (ATR), seems to have a very large war chest, portions of which it shares with chosen Republican candidates that meet its criteria and, quite probably, at Norquist’s discretion.

Our analyses support that Norquist feels more comfortable being a power behind the throne rather than being an actual candidate. The chart “The measure of a candidate’s thoughts”, shown below, tends to support this and demonstrates a consistency over all of the writings we analyzed. Also, the consistency of the author’s Blue Sky numbers across all the articles implies that Norquist believes in what he’s saying and probably is quite happy in his “enabling” role.

Author Thoughts

 Norquist consistently keeps his writings on point.  The Author Blue Sky analysis results show he consistently scrubs even the minimalist padding that tends to lubricate a flow of words in the usual social situation. Only one or two of the several articles went above 3%, with only one actually hitting 50%; Raising Taxes Would Doom GOP in 2008.  In that case the analysis implies Norquist seemed to have felt obligated to write an article to make a point but thought that the article would have no impact and, possibly, was a waste of time.  This was the only extreme “Author Blue Sky” measurement deviation noted within the twelve writing samples chosen for this study.

A look at the Political Messaging numbers (below) supports the thought that Norquist likes to work in the trenches and not take lead on the battlefield.  The “I am leadership material” is in the sixties percentile and “I am Electable in the fifties consistently over all of the articles examined.  He is thoroughly convinced that he knows what is best for the country and genuinely feels the country is more important than his career.  “I have a Vision for This Country” is consistently between 90% and 100%, while “I Have a Vision” hovers in the 40 to mid-fifties percent range.

The numbers also support Norquist’s more passive, but extremely critical, role in that he appears to feel well qualified to lead the nation to his vision of what he thinks the country needs but is not certain he can pull it off.  His “I am of The People” numbers indicate he doesn’t feel he would sufficiently inspire people to follow him or be comfortable with him as a leader. In other words, finding the right leaders and influencing them is his best opportunity for achieving his goals.

Norquist's Political Messaging

The Age and Gender Persuasion charts below illustrate that Norquist tends to appeal more to men than women. Unsurprisingly, the target age group varies with the target audience for a given article. This is the one area where he appears to be inconsistent but, in actuality, isn’t. He is carefully targeting the group the article has been written for.  His writings are very well crafted and he seems to avoid writing articles that try to be all things to all people.

Norquist's Gender Appeal

Norquist's Age Appeal

The Blue Sky number below indicates that Norquist feels what he says will stand on its own right and any fact checking will confirm what he says. This goes with his belief that he knows what is the best course for the country, as mentioned above.

In sum, Norquist is effective and, probably, an honest political operative who is firm and public in his beliefs and extremely influential (see Gang of Five in Nina Easton’s 2000 book). On an editorial note, he has a tendency to make allusions to some bad (or even horrible situations, past and present), and equating them to Obama’s or the Democrats’ actions. It’s very effective propaganda, unfortunately,  rather transparent to our Blue Sky analysis algorithms. However, it was pointed out by NextStage’s Joesph Davis  that if Norquist doesn’t think his attacks on Obama/Democrats are BS, they won’t show up as BS, hence BlueSky will give it a low BS score. Irrespective of how one feels about him, its another indication of Norquist’s effectiveness as a behind the scenes political operative for the Republican Party.

Norquist's BlueSky

4 thoughts on “Grover Norquist – A Power Behind The Throne

  1. Thank God for Grover Norquist! If it weren’t for him, the Bilderbergs would have installed Rick Perry as the candidate by now, assuming the 911 Truthers couldn’t squeeze Ron Paul in his place! Grover’s the only one keeping Karl Rove and Dick Cheney from infecting Hillary Clinton with AIDS.

    It is perilously easy to point to some individual on the “other side” and conclude that that individual wields secret and overwhelming power, an integral part of the power structure. However, I suspect that far from being a “behind the scenes political operative for the Republican Party,” Grover is more likely to get rolled eyes when he calls the RNC. They take the call with overt enthusiasm, but they’d rather be eating turnips.

    When CNN does a profile of Grover, who do they get to present the more objective view? Center for American Progress. Grover would point to them as filled with powerful “behind the scenes political operatives for the Democrat Party.” (Actually, look at the names. He might have a point).

    But what about the pledges he uses to blackmail politicians, you say? Golly. Yes. Since no politician has ever gone back on a promise, we have quite a problem there.

    When rhetoric is set aside, Grover amounts to just another lobbyist. He’s a guy with money and some offices who spends lots of time trying to cajole, bully and persuade Congress to do things his way and attract attention to his cause. Party doesn’t matter to him, I suspect, though obviously, the Republicans will be most open to his message, so that’s where he focuses.

    But the vile evil corporation he represents is unquestionably controlling the strings of a puppet government. Uh, wait. He lobbies on behalf of people who pay taxes. Holy cow, that includes ME!

    But there’s no getting around his propagandizing where he “makes allusions to some bad . . . situations, past and present, and equating them to Obama’s or the Democrat’s actions.”


    As a Conservative, over the past several months, my true nature has finally been exposed in the national media by multiple commentators and members of Congress as:

    a racist homophobe who wants sick people to die and the rich people to own everything, and old people to eat cat food, and Muslims to be nuked and Non-Christians to be hung on a cross, and the environment destroyed for money, and the military in charge of everything . . . And the list goes on.

    People, we have GOT to do something about the propaganda Norquist uses in lobbying for his clients!

    Nah. I think we need to be sure we’re paying attention to when we are and are not being partisan ourselves and remember that American politics is one big messy, chaotic, blob that gets us where we need to be eventually, but not until we’ve tried everything else, as Churchill pointed out.

  2. Charles Wentworth’s comments, while welcomed, seem to be more about his or my view of Mr. Norquist rather than about the methodology or conclusions of the article. His comment seems to assume the article was an attack on Mr. Norquist, which it was not.

    I do my best to be neutral about any issue or person I am researching and focus on coming to the best conclusion or analysis I can with the tools and information available to me.

    For the article I looked at several of Mr. Norquist’s writings and cited other’s commentary about him trying to show to some extend the contrast between “where he was coming from” versus what others were saying about him. Perhaps I should have cited one or two more positive commentaries but I wasn’t really thinking about pro versus con.

    In sum, I wasn’t being judgmental but going where the numbers took me. You will note that I did not state as fact any of the things said about him. And I think some of the findings contradict at least some of the negative commentary about Mr. Norquist.

  3. Ah, quite the contrary, Mr. Ford. My visceral reaction was not so much to the analysis, with which I have no quibble, but to the very first paragraph in which we are told:

    “We’re taking a look a Grover Norquist’s writings because he is a prime mover behind the scenes in the American political arena for the Republicans.”

    I’m familiar with Norquist, but I am, alas, one of those unfortunate folk addicted to politics and frequently find myself waking up in an alley with a tattered election year bumper sticker stuck to my shirt. I truly doubt that more than a smattering of even self-proclaimed Republicans could tell you who he is, and I can name several non-partisan institutions with far more power and name recognition. So, for me, this first sentence is an assertion (one I’ve often heard made) that is questionable. (For the record, while I might share many of Grover’s positions, I’m not a particular fan).

    Your analysis is fine, as far as I’m concerned, and you freely admit you’re making editorial comments when you say his “propaganda” is “unfortunately” effective. Bravo for making the “editorial” distinction. My whole objection is to the trend to overblowing of the power that any subject/person gets these days in politics.

    I’d have the same objection to someone saying Obama destroyed the economy. (There is actually very little any president can do to the economy).

    Best wishes,


  4. Well you’re welcomed to quibble with the “Prime Mover” comment. As far as I can tell he does seems to be one. At least that’s the impression I have from writings and commentary from both sides over several years. I agree that the “title” could be judged, well, judgemental and not directly supported by the specifics of what we analyze. If that occured to me I might have used some other phrase. But any I would have used would have translated as an influential person in the political arena. Which is what a preime mover is to me. To my mind our analysis did not this this view of him inacurrate. But it didn’t necessaily support the phrase either. Actually it might be interesting if to see if our tool kit could determine “Prime Movers” from the analysis of many different folks’ writings and speeches in a given venue or area. On the other hand, it might be considered a secondary affect and thus hard to quantify.

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