Several events, seemingly unrelated, occurred recently:
– Dick Cheney, asked to choose between Rush Limbaugh and Colin Powell, took the vastly overpaid, Clear-Channel-killing “fatass drug addict” over his own former Joint Chiefs head, saying that Powell was “no longer a Republican”. I presume that means they figure that Powell is not going to come grovelling on his knees to prostrate himself before Rush Hudson Limbaugh III, as that seems to be a defining mark of a Republican these days.
Colin Powell’s high-profile endorsement of Obama in October of 2008 — an endorsement that came despite Powell’s having earlier maxed out on contributions to McCain — was probably a sign as well. I know that his backing of Obama made a lot of Republican fence-sitters I know a lot more willing to accept Obama as president, as Powell is someone that they tend to respect.
– Southern Republicans are reacting to Obama’s lifting stem-cell restrictions by planning state-level bans in the states they still control. As Salon’s Peter Dizikes points out, this is not only dumb scientifically, it’s also dumb politically: “State-level politicians from conservative districts may be staging a rear-guard action that displeases the larger public — and many Republicans nationally. A Gallup Poll from February, just before Obama’s stem cell decision, showed 39 percent of Republicans agreeing that embryonic stem cell research restrictions should be eased or eliminated. Wedge issues are supposed to split the other party, not your own.”
– Nate Silver on Mike Huckabee’s statements on the GOP’s constitutency:
If you accept Huckabee’s assertion — that social conservatives are always economic conservatives, but economic conservatives are not always social conservatives — it follows that social conservatives are necessarily a subset of economic conservatives…
The GOP’s real problem, of course, is that there is far from perfect overlap between social conservatives and economic conservatives…
The irony of all of this is that Huckabee’s greatest appeal is probably to economically moderate (or even liberal), but socially conservative voters, precisely the sorts of voters that he says don’t exist. But these voters do exist, and the GOP’s medium-term choice is probably in picking between them (which, FWIW, probably requires their making significant into the Hispanic and perhaps even African-American communities) and their alter egos, which are fiscally conservative but socially moderate, libertarianish voters. Right now, however, the GOP’s messaging is so haphazard that they are probably losing majorities of both groups.
– Five years after legalizing marriage equality (aka “gay marriage”), Massachusetts residents have noticed that the sky stubbornly refuses to fall. As Nate Silver noted last month — as Iowa was about to join Massachusetts and Connecticut et al in legalizing marriage equality, and Maine would soon follow — the tide is rapidly shifting in favor of marriage equality, thus depriving the Republicans of a favorite wedge issue even as the appeal to racism (another favorite GOP trick) is losing its potency.
Does this all say anything to you? It does to me.