Indefatigable commenter ConservativeCabbie argues:
Good idea, ConservativeCabbie! I was indeed going to mention the most recent WaPo/ABC poll which is, not to put too fine a point on it, horrific for the GOP. This is not merely a matter of the new Presidents’ popularity; it’s also because voters have decided that they really don’t like the Republican party.
No doubt someone will report on the latest WaPo poll which shows Republican ID at 21% and use it as evidences of the GOP’s terminal decline. The only thing I would say to this… is that in the most recent important poll, the election, the GOP still won 47% of the vote. And that was with decidedly unpropitious circumstances. I agree that the GOP are on the ropes. But isn’t that a fact when it comes to parties falling out of power – that they move towards their more extreme base before moving back to the middle. That’s what happened to post-Carter Democrats, post-Callaghan Labour and post-Thatcher/Major Tories. I would suggest that this process is even more pronounced in America due to the lack of a party leader.
Now, CC has a point in saying that many defeated parties, pruned of some of their more moderate members, have a tendency to swing towards the base in the immediate aftermath of electoral fiasco and that, in time, the consequences of such a move eventually become clear to all but the most bone-headed true believers. But it matters how quickly this process happens too.
Consider that in 1997 13.5m Britons voted for Tony Blair’s Labour Party. By 2005 the number of voters prepared to vote for a third Labour term had fallen to around 9m. Despite losing more than four million votes, Labour was able to win yet another decisive victory.