As the party has shrunk to its base, it has catered even more to its base's biases, insisting that the New Deal made the Depression worse, carbon emissions are fine for the environment and tax cuts actually boost revenues — even though the vast majority of historians, scientists and economists disagree. ... This plays well with hard-core culture warriors and tea-party activists ... but it ultimately produces even more shrinkage, which gives the base even more influence — and the death spiral continues. "We're excluding the young, minorities, environmentalists, pro-choice — the list goes on," says Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of two moderate Republicans left in the Senate after Specter's switch. "Ideological purity is not the ticket to the promised land." (emphasis mine)
This current party exile, however, is affecting candidate recruitment, as the GOP is having difficulty recruiting high profile candidates to run for office. Today, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge decided not to run for the nomination for Senate, and yesterday, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) decided not to run for the Illinois Senate seat.
Tangentially speaking, several Republicans think that the party should move beyond the nostalgia for Ronald Reagan (see Jeb Bush and a Wall Street Journal op-ed today), and while I have always found this nostalgia curious, I cannot envision how this will be catalyst among the party base. I would love to get some conservative thoughts on this.