But before we get there, the Republicans are going to have to settle this Romney/not-Romney contest they have going on for the nomination. Ultimately, when it comes to elections (as opposed to governing), money is simply a tool people use to influence voters. And over the last few years, the Republicans may have made some major errors in giving up the power to do that with money alone. I'll let David Frum explain how.
Extremism and conflict make for bad politics but great TV. Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much. As a tool of political mobilization, it backfires, by inciting followers to the point at which they force leaders into confrontations where everybody loses, like the summertime showdown over the debt ceiling.(Emphasis mine)
Remember how a couple of years ago every time a politician or party leader said something negative about Rush Limbaugh, they wound up having to apologize? That's because, as Frum says, he's become a true thought leader in the Republican world.
This kind of thing worked well is stirring up the Republican base when all else seemed lost after the 2006 and 2008 elections. But now they have to deal with it in a contested primary that could lead to a resounding defeat in a general election. Their voters aren't taking their cues from reality, facts, TV commercials or push-polled robo calls. They're now firmly following the lead of folks like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. A young Republican writer at Frum Forum talked a while ago about the "Fox Geezer Syndrome" in which he and his friends noticed that their parents had been radicalized to extreme right wing positions by watching Fox News all day.
Josh Marshall has been talking about a Murdoch primary and noticed some of that possibility in the take-down of Romney by Brett Baier in both the interview the other day and how Baier talked about it to O'Reilly afterwards.
When you hear things like "Gingrich can't win because he doesn't have any organization in Iowa," remember that he could have free staff working for him all over the state...in right wing TV and radio.
I believe this is one of the ways the DC "village" pundits could miss the story of this primary. They're counting on the old-fashioned way the establishment uses money to win an election - and therefore, we have the "inevitability" of Romney. But if this turns into a money vs the right wing talkers primary...they might find out they were terribly wrong.