f you still doubt that the Bush years were disastrous for Republicans, said Rod Dreher in BeliefNet, you’re not paying attention. The latest Gallup poll numbers should remove any lingering doubt, as they show a “pretty catastrophic” decline for the GOP—“across the board” in all regions and nearly all demographic groups—starting in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina and the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination.
“This is the hollowing out of the Republican coalition as we know it,” said Daniel Larison in The American Conservative. The figures are particularly “stunning” in the Midwest, where the percentage of people identifying themselves as Republicans has dropped by nine points since 2001. “This is not just the heartland, which the GOP is supposed to represent so well, but it has been the historic core of Republican politics at a national level since the founding of the party.”
Ouch, said Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. The only groups with whom Republicans haven’t lost ground are the party’s conservative, churchgoing base and the blacks and Hispanics who were never inclined to vote Republican. With only the GOP base left and all the toss-ups moving “en masse in Democrats’ favor,” it’s clear that the “brand damage” from the Bush years won’t be easily, or quickly, fixed.
That’s one way to read the numbers, said Brad Jackson in the New Ledger. Another is that the Democrats have peaked. In April, 54 percent of voters leaned Democratic and 34 percent leaned Republican, but now the split is even when you put independents on the side of the party they lean toward. Republicans may have “begun a rebound despite all the media predictions of their permanent relegation to the dustbin of history.”
And no matter what the moderates say, said Joseph C. Phillips in Big Hollywood, the key to speeding up the Republican resurgence isn't moving to the "gooey" center. Americans want someone to champion conservative ideas, and "guard the public" against entitlement-addicted Democrats. So rebuilding the GOP brand merely requires "standing up for those principles that most Americans still believe in."
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