Poll: What Happens If Conservatives Abandon the Republican Party

Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have both registered their displeasure with the Republican Party and hinted at the need for a Conservative Third Party.

Ingraham takes aim at Republican operatives:

If you can’t beat Barack Obama with this record, then shut down the party. Shut it down, start new, with new people. Because this is a gimme election, or at least it should be,” Ingraham said on her radio program yesterday. “Election after election, we hire people who have lost previous campaigns, who have run campaigns that have failed, who have messaged campaigns where the message fell flat, and they keep getting re-hired.”

Ingraham seems off-base to me. “Election after election?” Other than 2006-2008, when was the last time the Republicans weren’t the better operatives? They elected (or at least got close enough that they could claim victory) an affable mental midget twice and gave him Republican Congresses for most of his run. In 2010, they filled the House of Representatives with barely informed activists. Until 2008, the Democrats were incapable of consistent national success without a screwy three-way race involving a vain billionaire.

That said, the Republicans seem to be running less than astute campaigns this cycle. I touched on this in an earlier article where I asked if SuperPACs were killing the Republican Party. After all, where is Karl Rove? Not running the Romney campaign, but collecting big checks as the head of his own operation. Others, like Steve Schmidt, have been sidelined seemingly for the sin of bad mouthing Sarah Palin as a candidate.

Basically, there isn’t a long-term talent shortage among Republican operatives, but a more recent loss of talent brought on in part by conservative Orthodoxy.

Rush Limbaugh pitched a more philosophical complaint with the Republican Party:

“If Obama wins, let me tell you what it’s the end of: The Republican Party. There’s gonna be a third party that’s gonna be oriented toward conservatism. I know Rand Paul thinks libertarianism. And I know if Obama wins, the Republican Party is gonna try to maneuver things so conservatives get blamed,” he said.

Conservatives really have an insecurity problem don’t they? Everyone is out to get them, including the Party they completely control. The irony of course is that the “Establishment” that conservatives rail against is comprised of, not only firm conservatives themselves, but the very skilled political experts that Ingraham idolizes. They are not “anti-conservative,” they just understand that winning an election requires moderation.

But Limbaugh’s prediction presents an interesting thought experiment: what happens if conservatives abandon the Republican Party? In the short-term, this would be great news for Democrats, who would routinely triumph over the fractured Republican Party. But over the long-term, would the hollow shell of the Republican Party simply fade away? Return to its roots as a regional, relatively liberal patrician Party forming the only viable opposition to Democrats in the Northeast and on the West Coast? Or will the Republican Party absorb the “Blue Dog” Democrats and position itself as the only electoral challenge to Republicans in those areas.

It’s an interesting question to ponder. What do you all think?

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