Over the Cliff

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Glumly meeting in the now blue state of Florida, the GOP governors are long on distress but, on WaPo’s account, short on solutions, with nary a peep about dialing back on the social conservatism. Meanwhile, over at the liberal blog MyDD, desmoinesdem calls attention to this Des Moines Register op-ed, wherein former Republican gubernatorial hopeful, lt. gov. nominee, and Huckabee state chairman Bob Vander Plaats asserts that the only way back for the state (and national) GOP is to hew to the old straight-and-narrow:

We have followed the misguided advice of “experts” to abandon our principles and move to the middle so we can supposedly win. In essence, we have become “lukewarm” on life, on marriage, on the Second Amendment, on limited government, on balanced budgets, on lower taxes, on parental rights in educating and raising children, on faith, on family and on freedom. The net result is that voters have spit us out of their mouths.

Desmoinesdem argues that the empirical evidence suggests that this is a misdiagnosis, pointing to a Greenberg survey indicating that Independents as well as Democrats (but not, to be sure Republicans) believe that the Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008 because they were too conservative.
Let me sharpen the point with respect to the GOP’s religion problem–what we might call the Godless Gap. In the 2008 election polls, voters were divided according to reported worship attendance into five categories: more than weekly (12 %); weekly (27 %); monthly (15%); a few times a year (28%); and never (16%). Forget about the monthly attenders, whom Obama won 53-46 but who are the most likely to shift back and forth. (In 2004, Bush won them 50-49.) That leaves the most frequent attenders, who voted for McCain 55-43, and the least frequent, who voted for Obama 62-36. In a nutshell, the GOP God Gap was 12 points, down from 20 in the past two presidential elections and less than half the size of the Democrats’ Godless Gap. And note, the least frequent attenders are five points more numerous than the most frequent. So how, exactly, do the Republicans get ahead by clinging to the old time religion?