Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative writes a thoughtful article asking, "Is the GOP still a national party?" He points out the increasing popular vote dominance of Democrats in presidential elections, contrasting this with the GOP landslides of earlier years. Yet the map that goes with it is arresting: County by county, this is a very red nation (admittedly this was from 2004; the Obama "high tide" results are shown, I believe by congressional district, above). But, with a few exceptions such as Phoenix and metros in Texas, the biggest population lives in blue counties. "Republicans," he writes, "are actually closer than Democrats to being the real 47 percent party. (Though it’s more accurate to say the GOP is the 48-49 percent party and the Democrats are the 49-50 percent party.)"
McCarthy points to the dichotomy: GOP ideological purity, discipline and grassroots strength have given it big advantages over Democrats in state legislatures and Congress. But that same base, and the need for Republican presidential candidates to please it, becomes a liability every four years. McCarthy is a conservative in the Russell Kirk mold and is rightly concerned about what passes for conservatism today.
The long knives are already out in the campaign of wealthy Republican financier Willard Milton "Mitt" Romney and one reads about the bloodbath to come in the GOP if Romney goes down. (It ain't over!). But bloodbath to where? The Eisenhower, Ford, Nixon and even Reagan and Bush I Republicans have been read out of the party as RINOS. All militant passion resides with the extreme reactionaries that, when most Americans really grasp what they're about, further marginalize the party.