The recipe for GOP success is a return to the Gingrich days of the 1980s and early 1990s, with Reaganesque candidates like Virginia’s Bob McDonnell hiding their social conservatism under a bushel as social conservatives mobilize quietly behind the scenes. My guess is that the much touted “war within the GOP” will be smaller than advertised. In these times, the hard-eyed guys in the party will succeed in persuading their candidates that the economy and big government are the issues to run on. In New York 23, Deirdre Scozzafava may have been center-right in the New York Assembly, but on the hot-button issues of abortion, same-sex marriage, and the stimulus package, she was beyond the national Republican pale. In the GOP, her kind is almost non-existent as it is.
Mainers’ rejection of same-sex marriage–combined with the success of Washington State’s expanded domestic partnership law–takes some of the heat off the Obama administration and its congressional allies on gay rights. With voters “not yet ready” to go all the way, there’s reason to continue the slow-walk on DADT and DOMA.
Overall, the God Gaps–the preference of the most religious for Republicans and the least religious for Democrats–are alive and well.