Donald Douglas warns against a moderate “Schwarzenegger model” for GOP recovery:
[T]he “Schwarzenegger Model” of compromising core conservative principles on fiscal restraint and social policy is inherently dangerous for those looking to find a “middle way” back to power in the years ahead. Indeed, a Schwarzenegger approach could very well destroy the party by making a new third-party, conservative-libertarian movement entirely feasible. Instead, Republicans need to find an amalgamation of the Palin-Huckabee social forces and the Club for Growth economists that can provide a dependable path back from political exile in the coming years.
Actually, if I’m reading Palin’s own statements about fiscal conservatism correctly, her actual governing philosophy owes more to Club for Growth than to Huckabee’s brand of “compassionate conservatism.” And as I pointed out Friday, it is a mistake to read this election as an ideological referendum. The GOP lost independent voters, but independent voters are not centrists, rather they are mostly “low information” voters whose choices are based on general impressions of candidates and parties. (BTW, a hat-tip to frequent Spectator contributor Matthew Vadum for research assistance on Samuel Popkin’s theory of “low-information rationality.”)
The immediate aftermath of a landslide defeat is not a good time for the losers to gaze into a crystal ball imagining the issues and messages they’ll use to recover. In the short term — that is, the next two to four years — the real hope for the Republican Party lies mainly in the prospect that Obama and the Democrats will disappoint the expectations of independent voters, who were clearly fed up with the GOP, but who won’t necessarily be pleased if the Democrats enact a liberal agenda.