After McCain

Kevin Drum observes that one consequence of the fact that the right-wing base doesn’t like John McCain very much is that if he loses the GOP will probably move to the right:

Actually, it’s worse than that. If McCain loses, as he’s almost certain to, we’re going to see two reactions. First, Steve Schmidt wasn’t nasty enough. In the future, Republicans need to return to their Lee Atwater roots and really teach Americans what liberal treachery is all about. Second, we told you a RINO couldn’t win. The conservative base will be convinced for years that the big problem with McCain was that he was trying to be a pale shadow of liberal Democrats. (Sarah Palin will be conveniently forgotten, or else finally seen for the tokenism she really is.) The nation still hungers for genuine conservatism, they’ll say, and they knew McCain was a phony all along. If only the party had nominated a Romney or a Huckabee the public would have swarmed to their cause.

Kevin says this is “probably good news for Democrats.” And it probably is. Still, I wouldn’t assume that GOP issue positioning is going to be key to the political future. If Democrats secure unified political control amidst an economic downturn, the outcome of the 2010 and 2012 elections will be mostly determined by whether or not the new administration and new congress manage to produce a return to strong economic growth and avoid noteworthy foreign policy disasters.