24 nov. 2008

More Bad News for the Republicans

Photo: House Minority Leader John Boehner. Inset, top left: Rep. Eric Cantor. Bottom: Rep. Mike Pence.

Wall Street is not the only place where stocks are falling. The stock of the Republican party has gone from "bad to worse" in the last month according to a Gallup poll conducted Nov. 13-16. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed had an unfavorable view of the GOP, the highest since Gallup began taking this measure in 1992, while 34 percent had a favorable view. The public's view of Democrats remained about the same as before the election with a 55 percent to 39 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.
Gallup also asked Republicans what direction they think the party should take in the wake of this year's elections. Fifty-nine percent wanted the party to go in a more conservative direction, 28 percent favored staying the same and 12 percent wanted the party to become less conservative. For an interesting Capitol Hill view of this, check out Salon's article today, The GOP's Problem? It's Not Right-Wing Enough:
To most observers, the elections two weeks ago sent a pretty clear signal: The nation was sick of George W. Bush, sick of his party, sick of conservatism as a governing philosophy. Don't tell that to House Republicans, though.
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, the House GOP (its ranks reduced by at least 20 seats for the second campaign cycle in a row, and possibly more depending on the outcome of some disputed races) elected a slate of leaders drawn from the most ideologically conservative bloc in their ranks, the Republican Study Committee. As expected, Minority Leader John Boehner, who has cultivated friends among just about every faction there is in the caucus, held on to his job as head of a shrinking party, holding off a challenge by Dan Lungren of California, who claimed he'd bring the party even more to the right than under Boehner's watch. But conservatives managed to push two other leaders out, freeing space for RSC members Eric Cantor of Virginia and Mike Pence of Indiana to move up in the ranks to the two positions right behind Boehner (who isn't exactly a moderate himself). Before the day was over, Cantor had already updated his title on his Web site to Republican whip, though the whip's office site still featured the departed Roy Blunt, a holdover from the days of Tom DeLay's reign whom the party's hardcore right wing didn't trust as much.
(Democrats have their own leadership battle coming Thursday, as California's Henry Waxman tries to unseat Michigan's John Dingell as head of the House Energy Committee. Waxman won a preliminary vote Wednesday among the generally liberal Democratic Steering Committee, but still has to win a majority of the conference.)
Glad to still be in charge, Boehner issued an optimistic statement after the private meeting where he was reelected. He sent a clear signal to the GOP base that he understands frustrations on the right. "The months ahead will present Republicans with an unprecedented opportunity to renew our drive for smaller, more accountable government and offer positive solutions to the challenges facing the American people," he said in a statement.
Translated out of Congress-ese, that means the House GOP is getting back to basics. (Think 1994.) The conservatives who dominate what's left of the GOP caucus -- mostly from the South or the West -- think the real reason Republicans have been losing the last few years is because the party wasn't conservative enough. "There's a strong consensus that Republicans need to start acting like the people whom we say we are," one senior Republican aide who is not involved in leadership said. "We've too often given people the ability to discern that maybe we're not the people who we claim to be ... If you go to the voting booth with the choice of a Democrat and someone who's acting like a Democrat but claiming to be a Republican, you'd go with the Democrat."