James Forsyth

A conservative revival in the States

A conservative revival in the States
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Election night two years ago was not a good night for the GOP. Not only had it lost the White House but also all those predictions about how social trends and demographics were making America more Democrat appeared to be coming true.  In the south, Virginia and North Carolina shifted to the Democratic column. In the mid-West, Indiana went for the Democratic candidates for the first time since 1964.

I was watching the results come in that night with an informal adviser to the McCain campaign and that evening it was hard to see how the Republicans could get to 270 in future with the upper south moving into swing state territory. But just two years on, the Democrats are about to get hit by a Republican wave. As Ross Douthat argues in the New York Times today, ‘an opportunity has opened for the Right that would have been unimaginable just two years ago — a chance to pre-empt a seemingly inevitable liberal epoch with an unexpected conservative revival.’

The danger for the Republicans is that they are under-prepared for government. They know what they want to stop but not what they want to do. Obama could well find it easier with a Republican controlled-House. It would give him something to pivot off, to define himself against.

It would also be a mistake to think that the fundamental problems that threatened the party two years ago have gone away. They have not.

But there’s no doubt that Obama is far more vulnerable at this point in the cycle than the pundits expected him to be. Remarkably, 47 percent of Democrats want to see someone challenge the president in the primaries.

The question now is can Obama course-correct. If he can’t, then the Republican primary fight could become crucial. In these circumstances, a credible Republican challenger could well make Obama a one-term president.