Skip to main content

I swear I didn't know Specter was going to switch when I wrote my latest piece on the GOP's base problem this morning.

So what's left? How can a regressive, reactionary party continue to function as a national going concern when its message appeals to a shrinking and aging base, and when the nation's youngest voters reject it by a margin of over 30 points?

Well, it can't, not when its base (unlike ours) is dead-set on keeping its party outside of the American mainstream.

We're seeing this in action today as conservatives cheer Specter's exit from their party. They are purer, more conservative, and more southerner. Clearly, that's much to cheer for a movement that apparently loves being part of a fringe minority.

South Carolina's Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, however, isn't with that crowd.

Ideologically, we are a center-right party and I am committed to maintaining that position. However, for us to have national relevance we have to run and win in blue states.  As a party we have to expand our base and diversify our membership while maintaining our fiscally conservative, limited government approach.

Center-right? Specter is center-right, and he's made clear that the GOP is no longer hospitable to him. Sure, his party switching is rank opportunism at its worst, but he was forced to do it because his party moved far to the Right. There's a reason that 200,000 moderate Republicans in Pennsylvania switched to the Democratic Party last year. Arlen has been left chasing those 200,000 voters, which are essentially his base. The Toomey crowd, the ascendent reactionary wing of the GOP, isn't going for "center-right". Their brand of conservatism is of the "far-right" variety, grossly out of step with the American (and Pennsylvania) mainstream.

Check it -- Republicans are now down to 40 senators, distributed in these states: AK: 1, AL: 2, AZ: 2, FL: 1, GA: 2, ID: 2, IN: 1, IA: 1, KS: 2, KY: 2, LA: 1, ME: 2, MS: 2, MO: 1, NE: 1, NH: 1, NV: 1, NC: 1, OH: 1, OK: 2, TN: 2, SC: 2, SD: 1, TX: 2, UT: 2, and WY: 2.

  • Republicans are present in 26 states, which doesn't sound so bad. But it means that almost half the country doesn't have any Republican Senators. Only 14 states lack a Democratic Senator.
  • Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, and North Carolina (and maybe even Florida if Crist doesn't jump in for the GOP), are all top candidates for sending two Democrats to the Senate after the 2010 elections. That would further shrink the GOP into its deep South and Mormon Corridor strongholds.
  • Of the GOP's remaining 40 senators, 17 of 24 come from the South (FL, NC, SC, AL, MS, GA, VA, TN, KY, LA, AR, TX). That's up from 15 after the 1998 election.
  • Of those remaining 40 senators, only 3 of 24 come from the Northeast (ME, VT, NY, MD, PA, CT, DE, MA, NH, RI, WV, NJ). That's down significantly from 9 after the 1998 election.

  • Of those remaining 40 senators, only 10 of 26 come from the West (NM, CA, OR, WA, AK, HI, MT, ID, UT, NV, AZ, WY, CO). That's down from 16 after the 1998 election.

  • Of those remaining 40 senators, only 10 of 26 come from the Midwest (IL, MN, MI, OH, WI, IA, MO, KS, IN, ND, SD, OK, NE). That's down from 14 after the 1998 election.

So check it -- there is only one region the GOP dominates, and it does so with a solid majority. That's the South, and there's a reason it remains the only region in the country to have a problem with our president and the Democratic majority:

Obama's numbers by region 4-23

Lindsey Graham wishes his party was a national one, but until it radically changes to become more in tune with changing social mores, changing demographics, and the newest generations, it'll continue seeing its numbers hail just from the most regressively conservative states.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 12:20 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site