The 2012 elections have served as a wake up call for many in the GOP. Republican leaders have been scrambling to reinvent their image, and have attempted to appear as if they are moving away from the far right narrative they had been promoting for more than four years. At the same time, President Obama appears to be pushing his politics further to the left as well. It has been a tough couple of months for the GOP as they try to keep the party from fading into obscurity. In their moment of great weakness, the GOP has fallen back on assigning the blame for their woes an their perennial scapegoat, President Obama. Speaker Boehner has accused President Obama of trying to "annihilate the Republican party" as they lay prostrate and defenseless. His statement illustrates the GOP's lack of introspection, as they have no one to blame but themselves. Follow me below the orange colored, newly drawn congressional district.
The 2008 election of President Obama was a catalyst for the remarkable rise of the far-right zealots in America. The Tea Party rose up and set their hair on fire. The backlash to the 2008 election was felt in 2010 as Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives. Many of these newly elected congressmen were outspoken members of the Tea Party, and were responsible for introducing the word primaried into the American lexicon. The 2010 election saw the rise of GOP supermajorities in many key battleground states. This GOP sweep couldn't have occurred at a more opportune time for the Republican party as 2010 was a National Census year. This allowed these newly minted GOP supermajorities to redraw congressional districts in a manner that nearly guaranteed the election of Republicans for years to come.
This gerrymandering was exhibited in the most recent election as Democrats won the majority of votes in elections for House seats, yet maintained a minority in the house. Speaker Boehner believed it to be a mandate for Republicans in the House, when it was in fact just a result of creatively redrawn congressional districts. So the gerrymandering was indeed proven to have worked, the GOP maintained their majority in the House, and what was seen as a boon to the party, was in fact a poison pill.
These newly drawn districts have made the congressional races less competitive. Districts in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin that were once contested are now considered safe for Republicans. However, it has opened up moderate Republicans to the possibility of being primaried. The threat of competition from the Democratic party tended to keep right-wing zealots at bay, but now that the competitions has disappeared, these zealots know that they only have to win a primary. These primaries have become even more enticing as many moderate Republicans tend to stay home instead of voting,leaving the primaries to be decided by the staunchest of Republicans. This means that an incumbent must either tack further to the right in order to please the most ideological, or risk finding themselves updating their resume.
So as the GOP struggles with rebranding, as they try to cross the new demographic gap, and as they attempt to tack closer to the center on a national level, the results from the 2010 election push them further right on the local level. Their party is being pulled in two separate directions, the party leaders are trying to pull the GOP towards moderation, while their most active constituents pull the GOP towards extremism. The Democratic party and President Obama may have destroyed their aspirations in 2012, but the GOP has been annihilating itself since 2008.