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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Far Shores of Conservatism

As my and other progressive reactions to the Ryan budget proposal have tried to make clear, the document is a true landmark in the consolidation of movement-conservative control over the Republican Party. Not since Barry Goldwater opposed the original Great Society legislation has such an effort been made to roll it all back.
But there are reminders today that even this degree of rightward movement by the GOP is not enough for more than a few conservatives. There’s this interesting tidbit in the Washington Post‘s account of congressional GOP reaction to Ryan’s budget:

Some Republicans have already dismissed the Ryan plan as too timid, saying they can’t go back to constituents without a balanced budget.

Similarly, a leading Tea Party blogger warns conservatives not to get too excited about Ryan himself:

Many conservatives desperate for the second coming of Reagan and Jesus have poured out their hopes, dreams, and ambitions into Paul Ryan as if he is some sort of empty vessel to be filled with the desires of conservatives.
Paul Ryan is a very decent guy, but he is just a man. He supported No Child Left Behind, the medicare prescription drug benefit, TARP, the auto bailout, the arguably unconstitutional AIG bonus tax, and capping CEO pay among other things. He is not infallible. Please, conservatives, try not to sound too enraptured.

Meanwhile, rank-and-file conservative radicalism was on display in a startling new PPP poll from New Hampshire, which showed Donald Trump jumping into a competitive second-place position just below Mitt Romney in a trial primary heat:

If Trump actually runs 21% of New Hampshire GOP voters say they’d vote for him, compared to 27% for Romney. The key to Trump’s relatively strong showing? He does well with birthers and Tea Partiers, two groups he has seemed to actively court with his public comments of late. 42% of primary voters firmly say they do not believe Barack Obama was born in the United States to 35% who believe that he was and 23% who aren’t sure. Trump leads Romney 22-21 with the birther crowd, but Romney holds the overall lead because he’s up by a much wider margin with the folks who dismiss the birther theory.
Trump also leads Romney 23-21 with the Republican primary voters who consider themselves to be Tea Party members but that’s only 30% of the electorate and Romney’s up by a good margin with the folks who don’t identify with that movement.

Republican elected officials are under a lot of pressure to say and do things they’d never have considered saying and doing–in public, at least–until things started getting weird for them in 2008.

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