Not that this is a real concern of mine, but something Kos wrote a while ago about the possibility of Huckabee becoming the RNC party chairman interested me:
But if Huckabee has the ground troops, what is he missing? The money. He got far in his primary race without any, winning Iowa with something like $27. But he won’t be able to rebuild his party on shoe leather alone.
Us Demcoratic rebels bypassed the Terry McAuliffe wing of our party by building our own alternate small-dollar fundraising mechanism. Without that cash, Dean would’ve never existed, and the establishment’s favorite candidate, Hillary Clinton, would’ve been (for better or for worse) our nominee and future president. Her hundred million dollars wasn’t enough because Obama was able to match her dollar for dollar in 2007, and ultimately blow by her in early 2008.
Huckabee, for all his talents, has been unable to motivate his ardent supporters to pony up. That’s the challenge for the GOP’s Huckabees — to create their own independent funding mechanism distinct from the corporate con spigot. Once they have that figured out (perhaps Sarah Palin’s role in the process?), their civil war will be fully engaged.
What’s hurt the Republicans in terms of money is the loss of the professionals. While both parties have the donors who can max out contributions, and find other ways to bankroll the party, what really helped Obama and other Democrats was the existence of a large donating base that could drop twenty to a few hundred dollars on a candidate. A subset of professionals can give, in total, a few thousand dollars to Democrats. The only economic stratum that can do that (again, I’m excluding the rich) are upper-middle class professionals–and the Republicans lost them (or maybe I should say us…).
Consider the following chart from Pew:
Not bad for a bunch of Dirty Fucking Hippies. And it’s not just about the money per se: people who give are invested in that candidate. To the extent donors are politically motivated, they often serve as the ‘cool kids’ for like-minded people. In other words, a broad small-donation base is critical for generating turnout.
The fundamental problem Republicans have is that they’re playing identity politics at a level never even imagined by the most multiculturalist liberal. This politics scares away what Princess Sparkle Pony correctly identifies as the real Republican base:
….one thing keeps striking me as I look at how Republicans are interpreting their huge losses this election cycle: they have no idea what their “base” is. The best example of this is how various people keep talking about how Sarah Palin “energized the base.” Huh? Sarah Palin energized two totally non-overlapping groups of Republicans: rural, Christian fundamentalist xenophobic idiots and ivy league neocons. Does the GOP really believe either of these fringe groups is their base? Did they look at Palin’s approval rating free-fall? Do they really think the neocon-led foreign policy of the past eight years is viewed as a success? Do they honestly still believe the Christianists have much clout with the general public?
George Bush energized the real Republican base: the suburbanites, the city conservatives, the “security moms” (remember them?), in addition to the extreme right wings (please note the plural).
So anyway, as long as the GOP keeps mistaking their most extreme elements as their “base,” they’re going to keep hemoraging their real base. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
If the Republicans continue to trumpet social conservatism in combination with anti-intellectualism, they will alienate an important constituency. You can’t tell college-educated (or more) people that being smart is stupid and that they’re sinners and murderers because they don’t want to be baby factories or evangelicals; that is a dagger strike against who they (again, we?) are. It’s pretty non-negotiable. Now that the demographic tables have turned*, the Republicans have placed themselves on the losing side of identity politics. And it’s hurting their campaign coffers.