Patrick Hynes

We conservatives are struggling through a Great Depression, don't you know. A Great Depression of ideas; a Great Depression of spirit; a Great Depression of optimism. I know, because TIME Magazine has told me so.

Of course, TIME magazine could be wrong. The venerable publication hasn't been the most accurate barometer of conservative attitudes and fortunes. It may just be the case that in 2006 we lost an election, which was bound to happen after twelve years of uninterrupted electoral success. It may just be that we momentarily lost our way on matters of fiscal discipline and clean governance and the voters punished us accordingly. It may just be that we are, as I write this, positioned for a comeback.

I will concede things look grim. Consider the picture painted by Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei of the Politico this week. According to these three respected observers of the national political scene:

Republicans across the country are warning that increasing public discontent toward President Bush, the Iraq war and the GOP brand in general threatens to send the party's 2008 campaign planning into a tailspin.

Already, the problems are having tangible effects. Some of the party's top recruits in key races from Colorado to Florida are refusing to run for Congress. Business executives -- the financial backbone of the GOP -- are sending more and more money to Democrats. Overall Republican fundraising is down sharply from the same time frame during the past two presidential elections.

Then there are the voters.

Polling data released this month confirm what GOP officials are picking up anecdotally: Swing voters are swinging away from Republicans at high velocity. Most alarming to GOP strategists is a new survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center that found 50 percent of those interviewed consider themselves a Democrat or leaning that way; only 35 percent tilt Republican.

Worse yet, we've got Iraq to worry about. Lord knows very few of our Democratic friends are of the mind to offer any constructive criticism or helpful ideas. If there's a path to victory in there, it's up to us. And let's be honest with ourselves: This is an uphill fight. The war is far from won and it's unpopular at home.

As Jay Carney asks in the first sentence of his write-up on the new TIME Magazine poll, "[c]ould things be any worse for George W. Bush and his beleaguered party?"

Patrick Hynes

Patrick Hynes is the president of New Media Strategics, a blog relations consultancy. He is the proprietor of Ankle Biting Pundits and the author of In Defense of the Religious Right (Nelson Current).

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