Mitt Romney successfully won the presidency–of the former Confederate States of America. Since Ronald Reagan converted Southern Democrats, the South has been solidly Republican. The GOP can thank the conservative South for many of the seats it holds in Congress today. But those same Southerners may also be responsible for the party’s image problem as an extremist party.
As the Los Angeles Times pointed out this weekend, Southern congressmen accounted for 59% of the “no” votes on the fiscal cliff; 56% of the “no” votes on the Sandy relief bill came from the South as well, which led observers to wonder if the Republican party wasn’t more concerned with helping red states over blue states when it comes to disaster aid.
One of the party’s newest conservative stars, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, made it clear this weekend just how unlikely he and those like him in the party are to come around to the middle on any issue. “The reason I am a conservative is because conservative policies work,” he said. “I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise. I think what Washington needs is more common sense and more principle.”
That’s the type of sentiment that led to the Tea Party’s rise and is now contributing to its fall. A new poll out Monday shows only eight percent consider themselves members of the Tea Party, down from a high of 24% in April 2010. Some of those Tea Party congressmen tried to kick Speaker of the House John Boehner out of his job for not being extreme enough for their tastes, and apparently the group pushing for the ouster was larger than originally known. The group of “disaffected conservatives” gave up only at the last minute.
It’s no wonder that Speaker of the House John Boehner was quoted this weekend saying, ”I need this job like I need a hole in the head.” Boehner’s got the job nobody would want, the head of the incredible shrinking GOP.