The D.C. pundits think they have it nailed. Sure President Obama and the Democrats have slipped from their mighty post-election high approval ratings. But the Republicans have no message and no candidates, and are a party that has allowed itself to become marginalized because of an over-reliance on the support of Southern whites.
For starters, no Republican has a prayer of capturing the White House without running the table of some large Southern states. Florida, Virginia and North Carolina all went for George W. Bush in 2004 and then for Barack Obama four years later. Recapture these states, and a Republican nominee is halfway to winning in 2012. So dismissing the importance of Southern support for the GOP is misguided analysis. The region is their base, and no party wins without first holding its base.
Next consider states such as Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. They are less populated than the Southern states just mentioned. If they all go Republican in 2012, however, their cumulative electoral impact could make the presidential race highly competitive. Then the battle for the great swing state of Ohio begins. Suddenly the race is up for grabs, and the supposed marginalized "party of Southerners" grows viable again.
Another false charge is that the Republicans have no message. None other than Bill Clinton dismisses that thinking. In a recent interview with NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy, the ex-president in essence said that there are scenarios in which the GOP could retake the presidency in 2012.
Clinton admitted that his own health care reform efforts as president played a role in the Republicans' taking of Congress in 1994. And I'll add that no opposition policies the Republicans had that year compare with the assortment of potential policy missteps the Obama administration and the congressional Democrats have already "given" to the GOP in a matter of months.
Yet Clinton attributes more of the Republicans' 1994 success to the GOP's "Contract With America" than to any of his own mistakes. He in fact credits his White House with implementing some of the better parts of the Contract. Would you expect him to say otherwise?