Since I started a similar thread for Dem candidates and their base, a GOP thread along the same lines seemed in order.
The basic question is: what positions will GOP candidates feel compelled to take in order to placate their base, that will make it difficult for them to win the general election?
I can think of a few.
Iraq. The GOP base still supports the war, by a somewhat shrinking, but still hefty, margin. Huckabee’s against the war, and is otherwise a good fit with the base, and a lot of good it’s done him. The GOP base simply isn’t interested in a candidate who thinks it’s time to withdraw from Iraq. But a solid majority of Americans want us to be out of Iraq in the not too distant future.
Immigration. Bush’s immigration bill has died at the hands of the GOP base, which would love to build a high-tech Great Wall of China along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border. McCain’s support of Bush’s bill is really hurting him with the base. Most Americans aren’t sure what the proper approach to immigration is, but they’re looking for something a good deal less hostile to immigration from Latin America than the GOP is.
Global Warming. The GOP base’s continual ridicule of those concerned about global warming, and its total uninterest in doing anything about it, may not make the A-list here, but most Americans recognize global warming as a problem that our government needs to address. GOP candidates will probably finesse this by saying as little about GW as they can get away with between now and the selection of a nominee. Next year, that may be enough to hurt them: people have seen how little Bush’s lip-service about global warming has amounted to.
Kowtowing to the fundies. The ritual visits by McCain to Falwell U., Giuliani and Romney to Pat Robertson U., and Gingrich to James Dobson’s radio show (he doesn’t have a university), are all about placating the base, but don’t go over well with most Americans.