Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The ID and the 28% Base

Going back through the 2005 and 2006 election, it seemed that two of the critical turning points in the Republican fortunes was President Bush's insistence on continual selling of his Social Security privatization plans and the Schiavo controversey. The vast majority of the population did not like taking on more risk and the vast majority of the population also did not want the federal government to intervene in a deeply personal and difficult decision for a small family. However the intellectual cadre of the conservative movement has been against Social Security since Bismark first proposed state run old age pensions in Germany, and the religious ultras were convinced that they could make better diagnosis and decisions from the Senate chamber than could people who were in the room. Both results failed and combined to delegitimatize the Republican brand.

People looked at the Republican ID and were disgusted. People laughed at the claims that Senator Frist (R-TN) was a person who wanted to keep the government limited and out of everyday lives as he 'diagnosed' Mrs. Schiavo via video feed. The Republican base, the and the core activist and core door knockers is significantly out of touch with the American main stream. In most districts and in most cases, the rest of the reliable Republican coalition is either able to sideline the base during the general election or speak in code to their base. However when it is let out, or when these constraints fail, the results tend to be ugly as the Social Security quest and the Schiavo fiasco showed.

Those constraints have failed as the core base of 25% to 30% of the country is about all the Republican Party has on a consistent basis now. They are the big donors, they are the only volunteers, they are the freepers and shouters, and they must be appeased. And there is no one else to control their impulses. And it has and will continue to get ugly.

I have believed for a while that there will be a medium term viscious positive feedback loop of self-isolation and immolation within the Republican Party as future losses occur among the more marginally Republican districts and seats so the Republican caucus becomes self-selectingly more conservative. Wash, rinse and repeat for a couple of cycles of isolation as the core donors, activists and voters demand greater purity without any countervailing forces such as traditional conservatives who are bailing in disgust like John Cole at Balloon Juice:

I simply can not believe this is what the Republican party has become. I just can’t. It just makes me sick to think all those years of supporting this party, and this is what it has become. Even if you don’t like the S-Chip expansion, it is hard to deny what Republicans are- a bunch of bitter, nasty, petty, snarling, sneering, vicious thugs, peering through people’s windows so they can make fun of their misfortune.

I’m registering Independent tomorrow.

People like John who self-identify as reasonable conservatives within the Republican Party were a significant portion of winning Republican coalitions and acted as reliable base shock absorbers. Schiavo turned many people like him into questioning the coalition that is the Republican Party, and the defection of many to either non-voting/voting for 3rd parties or actively flipping to Democrats in 2006 and probably in 2008 will lead to significant Democratic victories.

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