Polls show considerable popular dissatisfaction with the president’s policies, particularly his big-government initiatives like Obamacare. They also show support for the broad conservative policies which have defined the GOP at least since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. The best attempts of the media notwithstanding, conservative ideas are ascendant.
At the same time, the incumbent struggles to regain the footing he had four years ago, with his attacks on Republicans more redolent of class warfare demagoguery than reflective of the reality of his partisan adversaries’ policies, his own dismal poll numbers inflated by a compliant media, the administration’s spin reported as if it were news, its scandals treated as if they were the inventions of a right-wing cabal eager to destroy anyone trying to free the country from the control of a corporate elite.
If a conservative candidate, with a record of executive accomplishment, could take the fight to Obama, he could not rally the right, but appeal to independents as well. The electoral map would not resemble that of the past few national elections, but would look more like the one in 1988. Every state where Republicans did well in 2010, including such purplish “blue” states as Maine, Michigan Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, would turn “red.”
In the current contest, however, no candidate has emerged to take on Reagan’s mantle. At the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein lamented, that “one of the miracles of America’s founding was that so many great men emerged at once and complemented each other with unique skills. But now, in a time of great crisis, we’re stuck with painfully bad choices.”
Over at Red State, Erick Erickson (with whom I don’t often agree) didn’t mince words when weighing in on last night’s results:
Newt Gingrich’s rise has a lot to do with Newt Gingrich’s debate performance. But it has just as much to do with a party base in revolt against its thought and party leaders in Washington, DC. . . .
People are mad as hell they are about to be stuck with another boring, moderate, uninspiring choice that has at best a 50/50 shot at losing to the worst president since Carter. They are flocking to Newt not because they think he’s a great guy, but because right now, he’s the only one fighting for conservatism and GOP voters are looking for a vessel to channel their anger with Obama and their complete disappointment with the GOP establishment which is now embodied perfectly by Romney. They want a conservative fighter because most conservatives look back at Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, and McCain and see only the ones taking a conservative path against the Democrats actually winning.
I don’t entirely share his view, but get his point. Conservatives are looking for someone who can compelling make a case for conservative policies. In standing up to the Media, Newt Gingrich has done just that — even if, to many conservatives, he remains the least bad of a field without an obvious heir to the Reagan mantle.