AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY: ONE MAJOR PARTY, ONE CULT
You've probably heard the news that Dede Scozzafava, the official Republican candidate in New York's 23rd congressional district, has dropped out of the race, after nearly the entire GOP establishment began rallying around Doug Hoffman, the litmus-test wingnut who's running on the Conservative Party line.
NY-23 has long been a Republican-leaning district, albeit a moderate one that backed Barack Obama in 2008. What's striking to me is that, according to Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, Hoffman the wingnut was blowing Scozzafava (and Democrat Bill Owens) away even before the Republican dropped out:
So this morning around 10 AM I started up our NY-23 poll and after a few hundred interviews it appeared that Doug Hoffman was now running away with it -- unweighted numbers showed him at 45% to 26% for Bill Owens and 17% for Dede Scozzafava.
Then came the news that Scozzafava was suspending her campaign....
I expect Hoffman will win easily now, but if our early numbers were any indication what Scozzafava did doesn't make much difference- he was going to win easily with or without her in the race....
So teabaggers have taken over the party? I'd put it another way: the Club for Growth and Michelle Malkin (who repeatedly calls the centrist Scozzafava a "radical leftist" and Dick Armey (wingnut Hoffman's chaperone at a recent interview with a newspaper in the district) and Fox News and talk radio have now taken over the party ... and the docile sheep who form the rank and file now do whatever they're told. Hoffman wasn't even close to the front of the pack a short time ago -- but high-profile endorsements (e.g., by Sarah Palin) have given the zombie GOP nation its marching orders, and Republicans are doing as they're told.
Yeah, we tried to force Joe Lieberman out of the Connectict Senate race three years ago -- albeit democratically, via a primary -- but if we'd been like 2009-style Republicans, Ned Lamont would have won the primary in a landslide and Lieberman would have been running a distant third in the polls at the time of his inevitable withdrawal from the race. I'm not saying the actual outcome was a good thing -- hell, no -- but Republicans have gone to the opposite extreme.
Arlen Specter defected before he could be purged. Scozzafava has been purged. Charlie Crist may be next. I won't be at all surprised if it turns out that Snowe and Collins in Maine are much more vulnerable than they now seem.
I wonder if, at some point, the same leaders who are leading the base by the nose in this direction are going to subtly steer them a hair to the left, declaring more-electable Republicans the genuine article and tamping down the pitchfork talk. They're not stupid. And I wonder if the sheep will even notice the difference.