NEARLY EVERYONE MISSED THE BAIT-AND-SWITCH
We all know the conventional wisdom: teabagging right-wingers are exceedingly angry -- but they loathe Republicans as well as Democrats. The Republican Party is at a very low ebb; between its lack of appeal to everyone apart from white Southerners and its ever-lower standing even on the right, the party may well be going the way of the dinosaur.
Republicans have moved ahead of Democrats by 48% to 44% among registered voters in the latest update on Gallup's generic congressional ballot for the 2010 House elections, after trailing by six points in July and two points last month.
... In the latest poll, independent registered voters favor the Republican candidate by 52% to 30%. Both parties maintain similar loyalty from their bases, with 91% of Democratic registered voters preferring the Democratic candidate and 93% of Republican voters preferring the Republican....
Do Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and other heroes of the crazy base criticize the GOP? Sure they do. Now and then they briefly mutter a sentence about how Republicans "forgot their principles" and became big spenders -- and then, after that brief, quiet aside, they howl endlessly about the socialist fascist Maoist jihadist totalitarian America-destroying plans of the Democrats. Do you really think Republican-persuadable voters receive that as an equal critique of both parties?
If Beck has spent days and weeks denouncing any Republican as a fascist or communist, as America's Hugo Chavez or Karl Marx, I'm not aware of it. Same for Palin and Limbaugh and Bachmann and Armey and DeMint and all the rest. No teabag-friendly elected official has left the GOP, and there have been no demands on any of them to do so. The message, to long-time Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (including people who now say they're no longer Republicans), is that the party is flawed but not evil.
In fact, the message is that it would actually be the epicenter of good -- if it could be purified by the tea-partiers. That was the thesis of the Doug Hoffman insurgency in NY-23: not that the insurgents think the GOP is iredeemable, but that they think it's very redeemable -- by the teabaggers. The message of NY-23 was not abandonment of the party; it was that the party picked the incorrect (in both senses of the word) candidate.
Reducing the many, many faults of the Bush-McCain GOP to two -- too much pork, too soft on immigration -- actually makes the party today look better in the eyes of GOP-persuadable voters than it would if they were looking at it realistically, as the same damn party of across-the-board failure it was then. So of course they're going to come back into the fold. By failing to deal effectively with unemployment and Wall Street's crimes, Obama and the Democrats haven't given them any reason not to. And the teabag leaders haven't dissuaded them -- their GOP critique is just too mild, and not really intended to drive voters out of the party at all.
UPDATE: A new Pew poll has Democrats beating Republicans, 47%-42%, on the generic-ballot question. But there's this:
However, voters who plan to support Republicans next year are more enthusiastic than those who plan to vote for a Democrat. Fully 58% of those who plan to vote for a Republican next year say they are very enthusiastic about voting, compared with 42% of those who plan to vote for a Democrat. More than half (56%) of independent voters who support a Republican in their district are very enthusiastic about voting; by contrast, just 32% of independents who plan to vote for a Democrat express high levels of enthusiasm.
So they're not even holding their noses and voting GOP -- they're doing it enthusiastically.
Oh, and Pew says that
there is no shift in public demand for alternatives to the two parties.
So much for the big Beck/tea party realignment.