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The Republican Shrinkage Problem

The new Washington Post/ABC news poll has all sorts of intriguing numbers in it but when you are looking for clues as to where the two parties stand politically there is only one number to remember: 21.

That's the percent of people in the Post/ABC survey who identified themselves as Republicans, down from 25 percent in a late March poll and at the lowest ebb in this poll since the fall of 1983(!).

In that same poll, 35 percent self-identified as Democrats and 38 percent called them Independents.

These numbers come on the heels of Steve Schmidt, former campaign manager for Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential bid, declaring the Republican party a "shrinking entity" last week -- citing the decline of GOP numbers in the west, northeast and mountain west as evidence.

And they show a somewhat significant decline from even last November's election when exit polls showed 32 percent of voters identifying as Republican as compared to 39 percent for Democrats and 29 percent for independents and others. (A caveat: voters tend to see things through a more partisan lens after having just voted in a presidential election than they do in an April poll.)

The Post poll numbers show the challenge for Republicans in stark terms.

The number of people who see themselves as GOPers is on the decline even as those who remain within the party grow more and more conservative.

That means that the loyal base of the party has an even larger voice in terms of the direction it heads even as more and more empirical evidence piles up that the elevation of voices like former vice president Dick Cheney does little to win over wavering Republicans or recruit Independents back to the GOP cause.

Put simply: Republicans find themselves stuck between a political Scylla and Charybdis -- with apologies to the Police.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 27, 2009; 3:24 PM ET
Categories:  Parsing the Polls , Republican Party  
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Comments

The social conservatives who are destroying the Republican Party are reaping what they sow with Spector's defection, but of course they won't see it that way.

After all, social conservatives are on God's side and all others are not, they know God's will and all others do not, and they are determined to use the power of government to advance their view of God's kingdom, without any concessions to those who feel differently.

Why should social conservatives ever compromise? They're morally superior and know better than everyone else.

Posted by: bpai_99 | April 28, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

The dems and reps are just two sides of the same coin. Increasingly statist and corrupt. Decent conservatives in the rep party have gradually been replaced by the same self-serving ego maniacs and crooks that reside on the dem side. The only difference that I can see is that if you D after your name you are allowed to offer free candy to the sheeple while if you have an R and try that you are seen as tranparent.

Posted by: leapin | April 28, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

When you have such audacious blowhards as Rush, Newt and Bill O'Reilly, there isn't too much window dressing attracting American political consumers to your side of the street.

The electorate has identified the burgeoning array of political concerns brought about by the indifference of past and present GOP leaders. The bigotry and blame games are counterproductive and increasingly impotent.

The GOP persists in representing the narrow perspective; championing the status quo and arrogance of elitists. Their party platform is analogous to patients with senile dementia.


Posted by: foothillbill | April 28, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

There will always be a "liberal" and a "conservative" viewpoint (with varying degrees from extreme to moderate). Whether there will be a Republican or Democratic party to articulate either viewpoint is another question. Right now, the Republicans are in serious trouble, and had better "lay low" for a while.

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | April 28, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

When the republican party gets serious again {if they do} they will get rid of Drugball, Silly Ann, Rove, the criminals DeLay and Frist, only then can they start getting the people's trust again. Perhaps their biggest downfall is Faux News which is being controlled by Hannity and O'Reilly and the big money people, no one believes the lies these two put out day after day.

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | April 28, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Being a lifelong, semi-loyal Democrat.. it would be nice if Democrats would have just a bit of respect for moderates and conservatives who will never join the GOP.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 28, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Remember the election of 1992? Ahhh, great times. Bill Clinton sweeps to power with a 'mandate for change'. Democrats control the Senate. Democrats control the House. FINALLY, the nasty ol' GOP is defeated once and for all, 'hope' is restored, and liberals set about to reshape America into Amerika.

Then came 1994.

The quickest way for the GOP to regain power is to let voters get a good taste of liberal...errrr, "progressive" politics again.

Posted by: dbw1 | April 28, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I sincerely believe that the Republican party, as it stands now, is led by people who are genuinely evil. The leadership is corrupt, greedy and power hungry, and they are intentioanlly and cynically taking on positions meant to attract the racist, prejudiced, intolerant, corrupt, ignorant, war mongering, torture-loving, and xenophobic segments of society. That's all that's left for them, because any decent human being, conservative or liberal, will not wish to be associated with the kind of messages coming from the Republican 'intelligentsia' of Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck & Coulter.

It's a long journey from "The Party of Lincoln".

Posted by: aardman | April 28, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

SEEMS LIKE CILLIZZA POLITICAL HACKS WHO MUST BE NON-TAX PAYERS READERS OF THE FIX, READ MY LIPS THE SMARTEST PERSON IS NOT ALWAYS ELECTED PRESIDENT BUMBO, NUMBER OF STATES? "57"/// SARAH PALIN WHOM THE LIBS SEEM TO FEAR THE MOST, REPLY? 50 STATES//SHALL I PROCEED MS LAWENSKY

Posted by: horsun4tjsLEFTY1931 | April 28, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Well, I am a Conservative Republican. From my perspective, the GOP is not dead and no party will ever be the "permanent majority." Why? America is a democracy! If myself or anyone else here in America wants to start a new party and has or can raise money to make it viable, it will be viable in the years to come! I think in 2005 that a new party should have been started. The people were there to do it, and still may be. Folks of the same mold, rebels in their parties: Lincoln Chafee, Arnold Schwartzanegger, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Jim Douglas (gov. of Vermont), Bill Nelson, Arlen Spector, Ben Nelson, John Lynch, Joe Manchin, Chris Shays, Jodi Rell, Kent Conrad & a few others really don't fit the mold of their party. There was the power, name support, organization & money there to start a new party and it wasn't done. It can still be done now, with the subtraction of Shays & Chafee in power, but they could still very much be part of the group. This nation is only said to be a 2 party system, it's not really. This is America, wake up folks! Go out and start yourself a party. Give those power brokers in the 2 party system something to sweat about! With grassroots organization, fundraising and a few top names it's very doable! My advice to people who complain about the 2 party system is start to organize and start your own party! Look at what the Green party has done by starting their own party. They may not have alot of elected officials yet, but they do have some and they will be getting more. I don't think America will still be a 2 party system within the next 40 years.

Posted by: reason5 | April 28, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to the libertarian wing (exemplified by Milton Friedman, Nelson Rockefeller and William F. Buckley) of the GOP? How did we ever let the Neocons take over our party...and through them, the country?

What did we get? Iraq, NSA spying, torture, the Bush-Cheney-Feith-Addington-Yoo-Bybee-Wolfowitz "Unitary Executive" cabal, Israel as the de facto 51st state, the dismantling of environmental protections, and an attempt to establish Christian fundamentalism as the State religion.

Time to change course, boys and girls? Or is it already too late?

Posted by: Observer44 | April 28, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

What's happening to the GOP now reminds me of what the Labor Party went through in Britain after Thatcher whipped them in '79. The party was taken over by their lunatic fringe, who promptly led them into the wilderness, and basically gave Thatcher, and then Major a free pass through the '80's and most of the '90's.

Now it seems to be the Republicans' turn to do the same thing here in America. As long as they continue to sell their souls to the whackjob/teabagger/Know-Nothing wing of their party, Obama can put it in cruise control and start planning long-term for the next eight years. As will his Democratic successor in '16.

Good. It'll take at least that long to clean up the catastrophic mess the wingnuts left behind.

Posted by: WaitingForGodot | April 28, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I fled the GOP with the introduction of the stunningly ignorant Ms Palin, but I still consider myself a conservative. Now I believe in the firewall our forefathers put in place to separate church and state, so if being conservative means that you believe you have a right to impose your values onto a nation, then I need to reevaluate.

The best I can ascertain to embrace today's GOP you must be uneducated, white, old, and male. The few people I knew who still identified themselves as republican, fled when Cheney emerged from his hole and when Fox News threw its tea bagging. That was two steps too far.

Posted by: xclntcat | April 28, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

This is so interesting that their is an outbreak of swine flue happing now. THE NASTY REPUBLICANS DID NOT WANT FUNDING IN THE STIMULUS BILL for flu studies and federal money going for preventing an out break. Once Again the Republicans screwed up VIEWS failed.
I still can not believe 10 years ago they put then Pesident Clinton through all that nonsense over Monica Lawensky, stole the 2000 election from Gore and they are still critics of President Obama.
The out spoken Republicans are SORRY, SICK RACIST LOOSERS. Even Captain Richard who was rescued from the pirates praised President OBAMA and said that Rush Limbaugh was a crazy nut!

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | April 28, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Consumer confidence is up -- more bad news for "Fail America" Repukes.

No wonder the GOP brand is as valuable as used toilet paper these days. They are both full of s**t.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | April 28, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Consumer confidence is up -- more bad news for "Fail America" Repukes.

No wonder the GOP brand is as valuable as used toilet paper these days. They are both full of s**t.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | April 28, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I think the Republicans have to get past the idea that the President needs to be an actor or a stooge to represent Corporate interests best. Dubya was a joke, and Reagan in retrospect spent a large portion of his presidency on the downhill road of Alzheimer's. The Chief Exec of the US cannot just rely on 'spin,' to make him or her seem competent. I think some of the moderate Republicans understand this, but they for the most part are forced into lock-step with fundamentalist boo-boos, and extreme conservative greed-meisters. What a surprise that no one likes the GOP. Geez, even the GOP doesn't like the GOP.

Posted by: tobeimeanpeter | April 28, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

With all due respect to a once great newspaper, you guys have so corrupted yourselves with your arch leftist bias that you have detached yourselves from reality. Your Messiah Obama is a fraud.
He promises everything and accomplishes nothing. Not everyone is fooled by your daily propaganda, look outside the beltway sometimes.

Posted by: walterndebby | April 28, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

First may I congratulate Chris Cillizza on the great analogy on the Greek mythology and to tie it into classic R&R. That said I also think the column is addressing the real question that Republicans must ask themselves. The polling is clear, if something does not change they will just go the way of the Wig Party. It is only been in the last month that I have come to that conclusion, but now I would only give the party a 2 in 3 chance to survive.

This is because conservatism is by definition a resistance to change. That plays well because most people do not want to change… they crave familiarity. The tension is that nothing really stays the same. As much as we want things to be predictable and familiar life is by definition change. Successful species and institutions survive by adapting to change.

The Republican Party is not adapting to change. It wants to live in America of 1980 not 2008 and until it gets the country is not the same it will see such polling results. The demographics have changed radically in 28 years (half an adult life) and America is a majority minority country now not a white majority anymore. If the party continues to let it’s base of Angry White Men run it’s policies it will go the way of the Wig Party. I know building a new party and the infra-structure needed to run a national political movement would be very hard to do but it may be the only practical way to convince the old guard that they must change not double down.

Posted by: bradcpa | April 28, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

mark_in_austin, as usual, makes an excellent point. There are still some grown-ups in the GOP who actually understand what happened last year. They see a real opportunity to take back some lost ground next year. They're the only ones in that party who are looking beyond the reactionary "teabagger/Party of No" approach, and trying to put forward something resembling a coherent set of ideas.

The big question: Can they prevail over the tin-foil-hat types who have taken over the GOP? If they can, then the GOP has a fighting chance of rescuing their relevance.

Big "if". I actually wish them luck -- nothing would be better than seeing the wingnuts marginalized by BOTH parties.

Posted by: WaitingForGodot | April 28, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Clare's point is well taken. Opinions turn on a few months' worth of news. McC, in retrospect, probably lost votes in the GE by pandering to the far right of the Rs when his instincts were both pragmatic and historically had been right-center.

The Rs took the wrong lesson from McC's relatively close loss. Huntsman reads this correctly. So does Crist. If some other Rs come along on trying to seize the center-right back from the bluedogs who have given the Ds a large but fragile majority, for now, then the Rs can be back in the game by 2010.

I am not in the prediction business. Now, the Ds uneasily span the electorate from far left to center right. McC wanted to seize a claim on the middle and he failed, in part because of being pushed right. Huntsman is going to try to seize the center-right, and it will be interesting to watch whether the Rs follow.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 28, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Is this a joke? I mean, if the Republicans are at lowest they've been since the fall of 1983 - what do they have to worry about?
I seem to recall that Reagan won in a landslide in the fall of 1984.

Posted by: ClareA1 | April 28, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

My 84 yr. old Father change from Republican to Independent.. just a year or two ago.. when I was 18, he told me that I had to register as a Democrat (he was one then) or that the County Assessor would 'get me'. I mentioned this to him 30 years later.. and he said.. I don't remember telling you that.. but that Assessor did get me.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 28, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else out there have an 84 year-old Republican father having them snag second-hand copies of Ayn Rand off the innernets? I love him, but there's your GOP base.

I can't be alone in this. Curse you Wall Street Journal!

Posted by: margaretmeyers | April 28, 2009 6:28 AM | Report abuse

At one time, party affiliation affected your primary ballot .. now, as an independent (in many states) you can choose a ballot (I'm not up on this.. so correct me, if I am wrong). Then there are Dems like myself.. I voted for John Edwards and John McCain.. parties are losing their significance.. who cares?

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 28, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

A tip o' the hat to Mr. Cillizza for the mythological reference .. the Clashing Rocks .. didn't anyone see "Jason and the Argonauts?!?"

Nice the GOP is as esteemed as veneral disease. But the condensed hard core is radiating white hot with hate and the party shows no sign of backing down or admitting a single mistake, so don't look for any kind of comeback anytime soon. Better settle in for pure opposition and some BS about tax cuts and abortion.

To hell with the GOP

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 28, 2009 2:56 AM | Report abuse

WaitingForGodot wrote - "The GOP Ministry of Propaganda aka Fox skipped showing the President's press conference so they could air a show called, "Lie To Me"...."
--------------

Faux runs that rerun every night. =)

Posted by: DrainYou | April 28, 2009 1:59 AM | Report abuse

The GOP Ministry of Propaganda aka Fox skipped showing the President's press conference so they could air a show called, "Lie To Me"....

Man, sometimes the material just writes itself.....

Posted by: WaitingForGodot | April 28, 2009 1:49 AM | Report abuse

I think it is simple. Talk Radio took a sound set of value that could be negotiated with other values (as legislatures are supposed to do) and turned them into non-negotiable, indisputable ideology.
It became us against them when the truth was, as Bill Clinton put it "there is no them, there is only us."
They also taught distrust of government.
So when the ideology of the Neo-conservatives proved to be a disaster and the anti-government talk led us to the Katrina fiasco, most intelligent people backed away from the GOP.
Now we have a party of angry white men versus the country. That's a formula for failure and a Democratic Party without a robust competitor is not in the long term interests of the country.
I am rooting for the Republicans to see the light of day, but I think it will take 20 years.

Posted by: djah | April 28, 2009 1:35 AM | Report abuse


Just say no. It's not true. People love us. They do, they do, they do....I saw it on Fox. (Bob, pass the Koolaid)

Posted by: Towards_Light | April 28, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

"you elect a freaking moron and what do you expect?

but for some reason, bush and cheney seem to have a lot of admirers who read the wapo. and boy, are they from the dumber regions of that 21%!"
=============================================
That's no lie. Check out posts on the story about Greenwood, South Carolina. Whoa! Careful, though...it's a Substance-Free Zone.

Posted by: st50taw | April 28, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Why be a Democrat or Republican? The leaders do not represent the conservative side of the of the people, thy are socialist, centrist, moderates, or mavericks, all elites who want power for self interest. The Democratic Party is so far to the left there is no moderation, if the Republican leadership want oppose leftest ideologies, whats the point of being a member of the party?

Posted by: xthat | April 27, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans' numbers look even worse when you compare their age to the age of Democrats.

Republicans are all set to regain majority status ... in America's cemeteries.

Posted by: kevrobb | April 27, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

so Fox is running "Lie to Me" and the other networks, who no one watches, is running "Lie to You".

Funny bit on greta tonight with Obama misreading his prompter. His only skill gone awry.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 27, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Too much teabagging has left them flaccid and weak.

Posted by: timscanlon | April 27, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but that 21% is very venomous and vocal...

Posted by: pumor | April 27, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are less popular than Venezuela and Russia in America:
.
http://www.pufferfishblog.com/weblog/2009/04/republicans-less-popular-than-venezuela.html
.

Posted by: DrainYou | April 27, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

THAT BIZARRE, SADISTIC AIR FORCE ONE 9/11-ESQUE FLYOVER:

STUPIDITY -- OR A DEVIOUSLY CLEVER COVER STORY FOR A FOILED PLOT?


Think about it: "Terrorists" hijack the backup Air Force One. It's flown into a lower Manhattan office tower. Thousands perish. When it is revealed that Al Queda has struck again, the global war on terror resumes with a vengeance -- with the President who hoped to bring world peace unwittingly cast as the new "W."

But what if word of the "plot" leaked out?

Well... revert to the cover story. Go through with the fly-over (after giving local law enforcement a secret heads-up). When terrorized New Yorkers cry foul, claim it was just an ill-advised photo shoot. Make the "fall guy" a former secretary of the Army, the first Hispanic to serve in that capacity. Get him to "admit" culpability, and hope no one questions the irrationality of the explanation.

Of course, we all know that this is America, and something so malevolent could never happen here. Never.

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 27, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

"Put simply: Republicans find themselves stuck between a political Scylla and Charybdis -- with apologies to the Police."

With apologies to the Police? How about Homer? Man, that's just sad.

Posted by: xlbagel | April 27, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Repubs down to 21 percent?

What. A. Shame.

Not.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | April 27, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

When you have nutty people defining a party affiliation as enemy status, bases change, but the real news is Dems don't like the tone being conveyed either.

It feels like an Odinga Kenya lifestyle in the USA these days here.

Sickness is unchecked, famine is afoot, while the elite eats Kobe imported steaks, and unemployed remain the victims of the elite.

Paid propagandists do not make an honest and free poll.

Posted by: dottydo | April 27, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

We got them wrapped around our finger :-) !

Posted by: AL1984 | April 27, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

"You don't win elections when no one associates themselves with your party. Maybe Gingrich isn't so wacky when he predicts a conservative third party making the GOP extinct..."

Except that the Republicans are hell bent on being the Conservative Third Party.

It is one of the unintended consequences of the Founding fathers that their constitution and the particular form of the legoslature they built, (and accidentally bequeathed to States in their legislatures) is that there will always be one major party, and maybe two, with many minority parties lurking in the weeds, hoping to become number 2, and then number one. When a party, like the Federalists or the Whigs get too wrapped up in themselves or their unchanging verities, they fail and are replaced. It is amazing that, since it keeps exiling the centrist part of itself to the tent, (the Conservative wing certainly doesn't enter that tent) the republican Party hasn't already permanently marginalized itself, out there on the far right. Someday the Progressives and the moderates will get the message and leave, the way that the far right keeps suggesting they do. Then they will coalesce into the second party, and sometimes the largest plurality.

The left, being a disorganized company of dislike minded people isn't in such danger, which is why the democratic Party is such a survivor.

My guess is that if the American reform party gives it one more go it will capture the Right Center and the republicans will be, like Colonial Williamsburg, just more living history, and a great deal less interesting.

Posted by: ceflynline | April 27, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

That the Republican Party is shrinking is no surprise. The GOP just ran a presidential candidate who could never figure out who he was on the campaign trail, and who is only barely edged by Bob Dole as the most lackluster GOP candidate in the last half a century. Add to this that Bush and his Congress dumped the GOP brand down the drain with an unprecedented expansion of government through No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and Homeland Security, and the party was in desperate need of someone to fix on a clear set of ideas and values. McCain was not that person.

I find it very ironic, though, that McCain's former campaign staffers and even his own daughter start lobbing shells at solid conservatives as the dinosaurs of the party when McCain himself failed to appeal to independents and when he himself picked Sarah Palin, whom these same critics of conservative Republicans seem to revile. Good grief, behind Bush and Cheney, McCain is the third biggest reason why Republicans are adrift.


But I think that the dire predictions for Republicans are grossly overstated. We are only four years removed from the same prognosticators musing about the death of the Democratic Party following Kerry's loss. How quickly four years and a charismatic presidential candidate changed all of that. And, Democrats be warned, it will only take a few serious missteps by the Obama administration, combined with an aggressive, charismatic personality who can put a new face to Republicans and redefine (or at least clarify) what the GOP is to flip the current political dynamic.


That 1983 date is especially curious given that the Republicans went on from the early years of Reagan's administration when very few identified themselves as Republican, probably in no small part due to the lingering bitter taste that Nixon left in people's mouths, to lay the groundwork for one of the most lopsided electoral victories in history the following year, and another four years with Bush, Sr., after that. And even with the election of Bill Clinton, Republicans remained on the rise, taking over Congress completely two years later. That 1983 low didn't mark any death of the GOP, and as soon as a smart politician replaces Bush as the face of the party, the Republicans will be back on the march.

The bad news for Republicans, though? The party hasn't found that new face yet. Romney is not it, nor is Palin, nor is Huckabee. And as long as Cheney keeps getting more play time in the media than any other Republican, the party remains a long way from stepping forward.

Posted by: blert | April 27, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

21% is way too many republicans left.

However, as the republican party is nowadays pretty much populated with old white people, I think we can look forward to a steady decline in the foreseeable future. This is good news.

Posted by: binkynh | April 27, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

The politics of the right and left is being replaced with the politics of progressive pragmatism...

Posted by: demtse | April 27, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

There is already a political home for all of you who are disaffected Republicans, moderate independents, "classical" liberals, or who value the key virtues of this country: The LIBERTARIAN PARTY.

Posted by: RAB2 | April 27, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

DEVELOPING/Fox just officially tossed aside any pretense of being a legitimate television network. HuffPo is reporting Fox is refusing to show our 44th President's upcoming press conference.

From HuffPo:
"NEW YORK — Fox became the first broadcast network to turn down a request by President Barack Obama for time, opting to show its drama "Lie to Me" on Wednesday instead of the president's prime-time news conference."
_____

Posted by: broadwayjoe | April 27, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

21% is actually more than I'd like to see...but it is great to see what they have done to themselves and that they are being rewarded accordingly....a democracy requires a 2 party system...but the GOP is broken beyond repair....they have Bush, Cheney and Rush to thank for their demise...the needs of the Many has finally risen above the needs of the few and the privileged...and if that constitutes socialism....where do I sign up?

Posted by: constwkr | April 27, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I happened to be watching a Seinfeld rerun when I read this headline, and I couldn't help but think of George Costanza's "shrinkage" problem. George reminds me of the Republicans, actually: a blowhard with no sense and no shame. Shrinkage, indeed, lol.

Posted by: Omyobama | April 27, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Right now the GOP "base" (great euphemism for Yahoos) is about 30% of the electorate and about half that number are the hardcore types that go to Phalin rallies, "gunshows," and Kla-, er, tea bag parties.

The GOP is now a regional (deep, deep South less VA and NC) "ultra-conservative" (another great MSM euphemism) party that will be in a minority status for many generations (like during FDR through Truman).

You'd think they would want to broaden thier appeal, but they've gone on the OTHER direction; pitching only to the Yahoos, and choosing divisive icons from the past like Rush, Cheney, and Newtron to carry their banner.

Rush's idiotic send-'em-back-to-Mexico rant (as well as Lou Dobbs' nightly hate blasts) assures the SW and Mountain states are lost forever, see Pete Wilson and California.

No one wants to hear again and again from Hannity and friends about: BHO's middle name, BHO's birth certificate, BHO's unfortunate African relatives (whom Drudge delights in making fun of), BHO's "socialism," Michelle's biceps, Michelle's 30 year old term paper, BHO's handshakes, BHO's teleprompter, WH dress codes (that never existed), "multiculturalism" (great codeword), BHO's release of torture memos (the substance of which had already been made public), and all the rest. Even hardcore folks get tired of that (we hope).

If BHO doesn't mess up (and he won't), the 70% approval he has now (according to both WashPo and DailyKos) will continue (or even grow) throughout his two terms.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | April 27, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Forty years in the wilderness.

This is your fate.

Until the Socialist Republicans cease their hatred of our core American values of Truth, Justice, and the American Middle Class, this will not change.

And as they age off and die, the number will shrink.

Posted by: WillSeattle | April 27, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

It is such a relief to know that only 21% of the people identify themselves as Republicans. It probably can't get much lower than that given that about 1/5th of the American people are certified lunatics to begin with, at any given time..
And, there will be no third party arising from this Republican debacle any time soon. For, while Republicans engender the affection of a mere 21% of our people, they are mightily loved by their corporate sponsors and will continue to receive massive amounts of money from them.
Therefore, they are doomed to electoral failure and the sooner the better. They have shamed our nation and it will take many years to recover our moral authority in this complex world.

Posted by: cms1 | April 27, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

When the former Republican party embraced its inner Limbaugh and thereby transformed itself into Banana Republicanism it sealed its own fate.

Hasta la vista.

Posted by: patrick3 | April 27, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Hello Chris,

I think the issue of accountability for torture and other crimes perpetrated under the Bush administration and an acquiescent congress may be partisan -- Republicans have the most to lose since they've been cheering the loudest -- but that doesn't change the fundamental issue here. The question is: Are public officials, staring with the president, the vice president and the cabinet, above the law? Because
the law -- in the form of the Convention against Torture signed by then-president Reagan -- clearly says that torture is illegal, PERIOD. Hence follow the evidence (of which there is plenty now), and prosecute where
there's enough proof to yield convictions.

Just because Republicans and many Democrats have been cheering on illegal policies such as torture (along with wars of aggression and illegal domestic spying) does not make those activities legal.

And you know what? The people involved know it. Why would they throw out red herrings about the purported effectiveness of their illegal methods, or the demagoguery of "helping the enemy"? It's because they
can't argue with the fact that the highest levels at the White House and DoD authorized torture, which is illegal, thus committing crimes under US law.

Posted by: poGhoh3K | April 27, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Being a Republican today is like being a Stalinist after the fall of the Soviet Union. The fact that anyone at all is shameless or foolish enough to align themselves with the very ideas that drove our nation and the world to the brink of disaster is shocking.

Posted by: dccamp68 | April 27, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse


i have to say, the term, 'republican shrinkage' is a truly unfortunate metaphor, conjuring scenarios I don't really want to think about.

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Where to start? How about:

"In that same poll, 35 percent self-identified as Democrats and 38 percent called them Independents."

38% called the 35% who identified as Democrats, Independents?

Or perhaps you meant 38% called *themselves* Independents?

Your twittering is spilling over into your blogging, which we hope has standards at least close to print. Or you're just trying to do it too fast and getting sloppy.

Posted by: drindl | April 27, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by:parkerfl1 |April 27, 2009 5:51 PM
"Maybe Gingrich isn't so wacky when he predicts a conservative third party making the GOP extinct..."

Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquest, Dick Armey, Tom Delay etc ... want to privatize Social Security, starve the beast which means bankrupt the country.
I don't see Newt Gingrich as a party leader especially when all he has to say is tax cuts, less regulation and smaller government.

Can someone explain what smaller government means? Reagan and both Bush's campaigned on small government.

Posted by: knjincvc | April 27, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Partisan grid-lock for the past four decades can be traced to an angry reaction to decisions made by the Johnson administration and the Warren Court. Civil Rights, and a generational rejection of the Vietnam War and the widespread use of drugs (opposite sides of the gap) created the grassroots (local goverment) tensions that wound there way to the federal elections through the House.

Term limits and tax revolts grow from the same rich manure than supports the global warming clash and tax/spend hypocrisy.

The growing ranks of activist Independents reflect the nations weariness with Right and Left. This real silent majority is becoming restless and ready to follow someone with strong moderate action agenda.

That is why Obama's numbers stay above 60% despite the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair by the weirdo right and loopy left.

Posted by: gandalfthegrey | April 27, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

The long-term health of the Republican Party is more at risk than at anytime since the aftermath of Watergate around 1974-75. If the Party moves right, as it appears to be doing, it leaves the center to Democrats by default barring formation of a 3rd centrist-oriented party. I don't think there is going to be a conservative 3rd party as Republicans are dominated currently by their right wing. A centrist 3rd party would be the more likely development.

More likely, assuming a turnaround of the economy during 2010 and passage of expanded health care coverage as part of a health care reform package later this year, Democrats may be headed toward an era of ballot-box dominance. Democrats are still likely to lose a few House seats in the 2010 midterms (probably anywhere from 5-15) until they can redraw the district lines post-census, but they are clearly going to gain Senate seats. This will mean that while the Democratic House majority will be reduced in the next Congress in 2011-2012, overall Democratic strength will be even greater due to having 62-64 Senate seats, a filibuster-proof majority.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | April 27, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

These poll figures are hardly surprising. The Republicans are widely and correctly perceived as the party favoring the rich, as well as corporate interests over the common people. They have a largely right-wing agenda which offers little, if any relevance to most people in this country.

Independents are close to or the actual majority because we believe neither party adequately represents ordinary people and both parties have major flaws in their agenda.

By western European standards the GOP is between a conservative and right wing fringe party, whereas the Democrats are a centrist party.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | April 27, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

The religious fundamentalists who took over the GOP never stopped to think that God really hates them, and would never let their evil and immoral actions stand.

I've been calling for a new, conservative-fringe party for years! I call them the "GLP" (Gingrich-Limbaugh-Party). "Whigs" for short.

...But I've also been calling for a new liberal-fringe party at the same time. Members would include Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Harry Reid. Not boxer, though. She actually uses her intellect. I would nickname them the "WP" for "Wack-job Party".

Then, the moderates and Independents formerly of the failed Democratic and the failed Republican parties can join together and get things done for America.

In the meantime we have President Obama to shame the idiot left and prosecute the criminal right.

Ever notice that the moderates in America outnumber all others? We're taking over via the ballot box, and pushing the fringe into the sunlight where they dry up and blow away.

GO PRESIDENT OBAMA!

Posted by: onestring | April 27, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

You don't win elections when no one associates themselves with your party.

Maybe Gingrich isn't so wacky when he predicts a conservative third party making the GOP extinct...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 27, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I heard the same smug celebrations from Karl Rove and Tom Delay right after the 2004 elections.


Posted by: gitarre | April 27, 2009 4:27 PM
__________________________________

Yes indeed. Those whom the Gods would humble, they first make proud.

Posted by: dcd1 | April 27, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

"The other parties that have sprung up over the last several elections seem to be way out there in space, so someone could organise these independents, think of the power to be the king maker. Or is it that independents think too much for themselves?"

I think its because independents are generally idiots. I don't think that people should stick blindly to a particular political party, but I think people should be enough informed of their own political stances as well as the stances of candidates such that they shouldn't have to wait until the night before the election to make an informed decision. Indecision made sense between Clinton and Obama who had almost nothing separating them, but between Obama and McCain with such a vast gulf?

A lot of these independents then make some lazy claim about how all politicians are the same or something stupid like that.

I don't have a problem with being an independent in theory. I considered myself an independent for a long time until I realized that I tend to side with Democrats on a large majority of issues. It's just that most practicing independents seem to be just intellectually lazy and ill-informed people. They aren't too smart to be organized. They are just too stupid to know what they stand for.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 27, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse


ever since 2000 and that mess......lots of folks turned independent....

it's the way to go.....

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

AsperGirl - Of course the Republican's are nuts. Look at their base. But, if you think the Democrats are any better, take a look at the lunatics that will tuck no criticism of their tin god. There isn't a dimes worth of difference between the two parties. The bases are rabidly partisan fanatics that are downright dangerous. Maybe we ought to hope the whole country collapses, so we can start over. At least the smug Obama nuts ill starve to death and we can always hope that the lunatics on the right will kill each other off.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | April 27, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse


I just saw a shrinking republican....

oh wait a minute....that's only john mccain...

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

The other parties that have sprung up over the last several elections seem to be way out there in space, so someone could organise these independents, think of the power to be the king maker. Or is it that independents think too much for themselves?

Posted by: mikecq | April 27, 2009 4:48 PM

---------------------------------------------

In order to organize independents, you have to find something to keep them together: unity.

You can have unity (parties) or independence (independent voters) but not both.

Organizing so-called indepedents could theoretically result in the rise of a viable party, which could replace one of the existing parties. However, if that happened you'd be right back to where you started with the problems of party politics.

Posted by: UnPatriotic | April 27, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

you elect a freaking moron and what do you expect?

but for some reason, bush and cheney seem to have a lot of admirers who read the wapo. and boy, are they from the dumber regions of that 21%!

Posted by: jimfilyaw | April 27, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to say that radio and tv succubuses should be thrown out of the Republican Party. All they do is bring about Divisiveness amongst people, All the while Making UmTeen kinds of money with No shame. What have they done for "we the people" at large?

What needs to happen is Truth Telling. When one says something, it must be follow through.
One must tell it in the simplest term as not to say later that "oh, I didn't mean it like that."
Stop Terrorizing the Citizens at large to gain support (whether it's through religion or violence of terrorism).
Republicans Must Stop Being the Most Hypocratic Party of the World and do some Truth Telling.
Republicans Must Stop the "Do as I Say and Not Do as I Do" mentality and action.

This following statement is something I storngly believe in:
Everybody Is Hypocrite Without Exception; Degree of Hypocrisy Defines Individual Character, by unknown JLH.

Start really taking care of the people. Stop hoarding all goods, you know you are hoarding. I guess either party would do good by taking care of the people sincerely.

Posted by: SOCIETY1 | April 27, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

What needs to happen is Truth Telling. When one says something, it must be follow through.
One must tell it in the simplest term as not to say later that "oh, I didn't mean it like that."
Stop Terrorizing the Citizens at large to gain support (whether it's through religion or violence of terrorism).
Republicans Must Stop Being the Most Hypocratic Party of the World and do some Truth Telling.
Republicans Must Stop the "Do as I Say and Not Do as I Do" mentality and action.

This following statement is something I storngly believe in:
Everybody Is Hypocrite Without Exception; Degree of Hypocrisy Defines Individual Character, by unknown JLH.

Start really taking care of the people. Stop hoarding all goods, you know you are hoarding. I guess either party would do good by taking care of the people sincerely.

Posted by: SOCIETY1 | April 27, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I have been an independent for about 16 years due to either party swinging too far to the left or right.. I do believe that independents are the future of the country and reflects that most people are becoiming disgruntled with both parties. The other parties that have sprung up over the last several elections seem to be way out there in space, so someone could organise these independents, think of the power to be the king maker. Or is it that independents think too much for themselves?

Posted by: mikecq | April 27, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I tried the right wing out for a few months after Clinton was mistreated by liberals. I can't make it work. Cidzilla is right. They're just getting more and more extreme. Scary.

Posted by: AsperGirl | April 27, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Republican shrinkage: the Bush legacy waters are jest too cold.

They had leadership for many, many years and 9/11 gave them all the political capital in the world (literally). Look what they did with it!

Posted by: AsperGirl | April 27, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

No, for the next several election cycles, the only threat to Democratic Party hegemony is crony capitalism.

Is the D party sewn with the seeds of its own destruction? John Dingell is at least as responsible for the extinction of General Motors as any of GM's executives. Larry Summers? 'Nuff said.

Posted by: shrink2 | April 27, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

The poll numbers are not surprising because it seems the current republican party is made of those who believe the party was founded by Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.

When republicans start to remember they are the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, they'll gain more support.

Don't expect THAT to happen while Rush "Save the Pirates!" Limbaugh and Rupert "I Will Do Anything for Profit" Murdoch are running the show.

DAStubbs,
Minneapolis

Posted by: dastubbs | April 27, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Republicans running against Wall-Street, will happen the same day the GOP supports raising taxes on the wealthiest individuals. It's just not plausible.


The Republicans have failed to come up with alternatives. In healthcare, between blind-faith in the free-market and their mean-spiritedness towards the uninsured, Republicans sit around waving their hands going on about socialism ad nauseum. If Republicans cared, why haven't they come up with a workable counter-plan, that covers more than just the wealthy/healthy?

More important the party is becoming irrelevant due its inability to connect with young people. Most young people don't care about gay marriage. They ignore young people at their own peril.

Posted by: UnPatriotic | April 27, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

... yawn ....

I heard the same smug celebrations from Karl Rove and Tom Delay right after the 2004 elections.
.

Posted by: gitarre | April 27, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The gop was gaining traction when going against obama's wild spending, but using cheney/bush to defend torture reminds us all of why we dumped the GOP.

Posted by: newagent99 | April 27, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

GOP always represented big government to me. GOP is a case study in the Adam Smith capitalistic theory...
no free lunches
what's in it for me...
survival of the fittest...

Forget about the collective, the team, and the country.........as long as I get my plane!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse


oh gee whiz...i am just so sad that we have a decline in republicans.

maybe if they get out of the year 1950 with their morays, morals, tabus, and logic.......

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 27, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I used to be an Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller Republican, unfortunately the GOP associate itself with the right wing, fanatical Evangelical Taliban . The GOP no longer represents the small govt, moderate alternative but it is an arm of the Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Dr James Dobson Taliban Christian right & it deserves to become a permanent minority.

Posted by: yog2541 | April 27, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

his particular metric might well deserve a permanent flag on the Washington Posts indices, (hey, neat, Windows doesn't know the plural of index)along with the DOW and the NASDAQ, especially since it probably means a whole lot more. a second metric would be percent of non affiliated voters approval of Democrats vs approval of Republicans. That particular ratio, always given as %/% might be the best gauge available for the political leaning of the country.

As for milbanks optimism, probably just more BRCM thinking. (Big Rock Candy Mountain, which is where the republicans seem to be dwelling.)

Posted by: ceflynline | April 27, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Delicious

Posted by: theamazingjex | April 27, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

To the victor.. goes the spoils!

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 27, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The solution? It's easy! Populism, protectionism! It's supposed to make a recession longer and harder (for exporter nations like China and India; just not us, since only 5.6% of our exports are manufactured goods). So, Republican's, to stop shrinkage, resort to protectionism! The voters are just begging for a genuine populist and you run the idiot Wall Street married Democrats out of town on a rail.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | April 27, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

h solution? It's easy! Populism, protectionism! It's supposed to make a recession loner and harder (for exporter nations like CHina and India; just not us, since only 5.6% of our exports are manufactured goods). So, Republican's, to stop shrinkage, resort to protectionism! The voters are just begging for a genuine populist and you run the idiot Wall Street married Democrats out of town on a rail.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | April 27, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

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