Presidential campaigns rarely turn on the negative reactions of voters to the size and scope of government.
They are mostly about the economy, sometimes about national security, and occasionally about both.
Once in a great while, they can turn, at least in significant part, on disgust, either with the wasteful operation of government or with its overreach into the liberties of the people it is supposed to serve.
Ronald Reagan's sweeping win in 1980 was preceded by the "Sagebrush Rebellion" in the Western states, which objected to the federal government's overweening rule in the region.
Of course, the repudiation of Carterism had many dimensions, including a reaction to Jimmy Carter's fecklessness in the face of Soviet imperialism in Afghanistan, Africa and Central America, and with regard to the Islamist revolution in Iran and the plight of our hostages there.
And high unemployment and inflationary pressure had created a misery index, which Ronald Reagan used via his "are you better off than you were four years ago?" question to voters.
But powering a great deal of the grassroots energy behind the Reagan campaign was the spirit of a significant portion of the electorate that was motivated by a deep desire to first cabin and then shrink the wildly expansive federal government.
The "Sagebrush Rebels" were an early indicator of the national mood 32 years ago. The Tea Party is the Sagebrush Rebellion on steroids.
The activists of the 1970s were numbered in the tens of thousands. Their heirs at work in the present are in the hundreds of thousands, assisted and empowered by technology to impact turnout in the key dozen states of the fall campaign.
They will work for Mitt Romney provided he pledges to roll back the federal blob in a fast and furious fashion.
There is even a shorthand for this agenda: "Obamacare. Stimulus. Solyndra. GM. NLRB v. Boeing. Gibson Guitar. EPA. Czars. Recess appointments. Religious freedom."
There is a second list, this one of the names of high-profile Obama appointees whose roles have outraged or offended since January 2009, but Team Romney is better served by focusing not on personalities within but on the positions taken by Obama and the promises made and broken by the president.
A week from today, the Supreme Court opens an unprecedented three days of oral argument on a single case: whether Obamacare should stay or fall in whole or part.
The very scale of the judicial proceeding underscores the enormity of the power grab by the president and his key congressional allies, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The epic size of the case and the underlying law are themselves only a small part of the expansion of government started by the president -- an expansion that Romney has pledged and must pledge again and again to repudiate and repeal.
If he does, 2012 will look a lot like 1980.
Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.