Grassroots Activists Pushing GOP to the Right

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Republican Party moderating its message, especially on social issues, but Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin points out that among the party’s grassroots the only appetite is for change in the other direction:

But outside Washington, the reality is very different. Rank-and-file Republicans remain, by all indications, staunchly conservative, and they appear to have no desire to moderate their views. GOP activists and operatives say they hear intense anger at the White House and at the party’s own leaders on familiar issues – taxes, homosexuality, and immigration. Within the party, conservative groups have grown stronger absent the emergence of any organized moderate faction.

There is little appetite for compromise on what many see as core issues, and the road to the presidential nomination lies – as always – through a series of states where the conservative base holds sway, and where the anger appears to be, if anything, particularly intense.

Meanwhile, the latest Washington Post poll gives little indication that this is about to work:


I think you have to be sympathetic to grassroots conservatives who don’t like hearing from Steve Schmitt and Megan McCain and others that the right should give way on gay marriage, at a time when the correct, pro-equality position is still sufficiently unpopular that most leading Democrats won’t adopt it. But in general if you don’t moderate on anything, then you’re basically leaving the fate of the Republican Party entirely in Barack Obama’s hands. If he screws up in an utterly spectacular way (see Bush, George W.) then there’s no telling what kind of agenda can win. But if not, then this’ll let Democrats win by default.