Is the Republican Party standing on the edge of a cliff? It's possible. Let's consider the bad news.
1) Fund-raising. Republicans are still portrayed as the little Monopoly man capitalists by the media, but the truth is that Democrats are now (alas) the party of the rich. As Peter Schweizer reported in National Review Online last year, "In 2004, Democrats made up 15 of the 25 individuals who gave more than $2 million to 527 groups. Of the Senate and House candidates who received 'bundled' contributions that year, 9 out of the top 10 in the Senate and 8 out of 10 in the House were Democrats. . . . In 2002, those who gave a million dollars or more gave $36 million to the Democrats and only $3 million to Republicans, a 12:1 ratio."
Fund-raising for 2008 has so far vastly favored the Democrats. Over the past three months, the top three Democratic candidates have raised $68.5 million compared with $48.7 million for the top three Republicans.
There may be many reasons for this Democratic advantage, including a certain reticence among those who wish to support former Sen. Fred Thompson (and we don't yet know how much he has raised). But Democratic House and Senate candidates too are outstripping their rivals.
2) Party Identification. Five years ago, the country was equally divided between the two parties, with 43 percent calling themselves Democrats and the same number identifying as Republicans. Today, according to the Pew Research Center, 50 percent identify themselves as Democrats compared with only 35 percent who say they prefer the GOP. Among young people, the trend is even more dramatic. Eighteen to 24-year-olds are more secular, more culturally liberal and better disposed toward the Democratic Party than their elders. They are also voting in larger numbers than they once did. Additionally, party identification tends to remain stable throughout life. A voter is more likely to stay married to his party than to his spouse.
3) Hispanic voters. Hispanic voters are about 12 percent of the electorate. In 2004, President Bush received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. In 2006, only 29 percent of Hispanics told exit pollsters that they supported Republicans. Following the immigration battles of the past year, Republicans may have cause to look back upon that 29 percent with nostalgia. Justifiably or not (and often it isn't justified), Republicans are now associated with anti-immigrant feelings.