Republicans Losing The Center–And Perhaps The Last Few Sane Conservatives

Charlie Cook warns Republicans that they could face major losses in 2012 due to the base of the Republican Party being far to the right of independent voters. He concluded:

The disparity between the views of the GOP base and independent voters couldn’t be stronger.

Look no further than late February’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted by Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff.

On the question, “Do you think government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people or do you think government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals?” 75 percent of Republicans thought government was trying to do too much while 27 percent thought government should do more.

But among independents, 51 percent thought government should do more, with 47 percent saying government was trying to do too much.

While those numbers among independents are effectively tied, they are a far cry from the 60-38 percent of independents who thought government was trying to do too much in the mid-October, preelection poll and a lot more like the numbers that existed in spring 2009, before Democratic prospects began to nosedive. That poll was conducted February 24-28 among 1,000 adults and has a 3-point error margin, larger among sub-groups.

It is much too early to suggest that the Republican majority in the House is in danger, but the sequence of events that Democrats would need to have a legitimate chance are so far looking increasingly plausible.

Keep in mind the volatility we have seen in the three previous elections. Independent voters swung heavily in favor of Democrats in 2006 and 2008. In 2010, those same independent voters went in the opposite direction to push Republicans forward. If something happens in three consecutive elections, who wants to say that a fourth time is inconceivable?

It could become even worse than losing the independent voters. If the Republicans continue to go in the direction they are going, they risk losing pretty much everyone who isn’t bat-shit crazy. That even includes the more rational conservatives. For example, conservative blogger James Joyner had this comment on Cook’s article:

My guess is that none of the more radical candidates–Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, or Rick Santorum–will win the nomination. But we’re at the point where even the more normal candidates are saying bizarre things to curry favor with the radical fringes of the base–including embracing the Birther morons.

Having voted Republican in every presidential race since I was first eligible (1984), there’s a non-zero chance that I’ll find myself unable to support the nominee this year. And that’s despite very intense disagreements with President Obama on core policy issues.  If they lose me, they’ll find themselves on the other side of a Mondale or Dukakis level landslide.  And likely conclude that their problem was being insufficiently true to their core principles.

Joyner will probably be correct with this prediction. Losing will just make them go further to the right, and lose even more votes from the center.

One thing which did help the Republicans in 2010 was that they won the message war, with lies beating out the truth, and were able to convince many voters that a centrist such as Barack Obama is the next Karl Marx. As one Republican once said, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.  Having pundits such as Cook point out that it is the Republican base which is extreme is helpful to Democrats, who often have difficulty explaining basic facts and promoting a coherent message of their own. I am hoping that the choice of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as Democratic National Committee Chair helps correct this deficiency in the party.

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13 Comments

  1. 1
    The Mirus says:

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  11. 11
    Tracy Thompson says:

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  12. 12
    packeryman says:

    Republicans in congress are being led by the far right tea baggers. They have done nothing on the economy or jobs. They want the economy to stay down, they think will help defeat Obama in 2012. As polls are showing they are losing Independents due to this hard right ideology and lack of work on economy. They will really lose a large voting block when they try to cut SS and Medicare. The only way to handle SS/Medicare is to put the funds in a lock box(so the money is not used for wars/occupations), lift the cap on SS/Medicare so taxes or paid on all income, increase 1% on SS and Medicare on both employee and employer, this will solve the fiscal problem of SS/Medicare. The only Republican on the scene this Independent will vote for is Donald Trump. He is the only individual really talking about the trade deficit and how free trade is a job loser for America. He knows these free trade agreements have to be revisited and made fair trade agreements before we ever get meaningful employment. He has dealt with the Chinese, Indians, Koreans, etc. He has the cogs to handle it. The baggers won’t like him.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Trump is trying to attract the far right GOP vote, including the Tea Party supporters, by moving to the far right on social issues and now taking up the Birther nonsense. He will have a tough time with the independent vote.

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