for me, this election cycle has highlighted three glaring reasons why the Republican party should be more than a little worried about 2012:

first problem: party unity

the party illuminati are already deconstructing the election, and half the party is saying they lost because they pushed away minorities and the intellectuals by pandering to the conservative base. of course, the other half says they lost when they left the party’s traditional base and moved towards the center (where the minorities and intellectuals seem to be hanging out).

this argument is going to resonate well beyond 2012, but the next nomination cycle is going to be an ugly battle for the Repubs … between a candidate who energizes the party’s base, and a candidate who energizes the party’s intellectual / policy / more progressive center.

that bruiser of a process is going to disenfranchise half the party, and make it very hard the nominee to win out. for those who weren’t paying attention, sarah palin brought about party discord, not party unity. her presence in 2012 is only going to make the situation worse.

second problem: policy not security

we are starting to see the signs that simply changing the subject isn’t going to work anymore. Republican candidates are going to have to retrench to a time when they had holistic policies (contract with america, anyone?) and didn’t just rely on national security to win the day.

sure, it’s great to have two wars going on, and to be under attack by the terrorists, but eventually the repubs are going to have to get comfortable on a new set of issues and not just keep changing the subject to national security.

(oh, and taxes… dems are starting to figure out how govern without raising taxes, so the “all dems raise taxes” line ain’t going to work forever.)

third problem: the “other” conservatives

the republican party seems to be defining itself only through religious and social conservatives. under Reagan, there was room for every flavor of conservative under the big tent (fiscal, pragmatic, progressive, military, intellectual).

today, people who don’t meet the strict social/religious litmus-test are either tossed out of the party (for not being “right” enough) or are forced to assimilate in order to stay. the world is becoming way to diverse (ethnic, religious, cultural) for the Repubs to rely on owning the white, conservative, and evangelical votes.

here is the problem: 89% of mccain votes were from white voters, but they represent only 74% of the electorate. 58% of mccain votes were from conservatives, but they are only 34% of the electorate. 42% of mccain votes were evangelicals, but they are only 26% of the electorate.

this isn’t a knock on any of the above demographics, just a recognition that winning these demographics isn’t likely to be enough moving torward. it’s also a classic sign of “engaging the base,” and not competing on the field of ideas and policies.

well, good luck, my republican friends — it’s going to be an interesting time in the wilderness for you. may you come back in less time (and maybe a little more progressive?) than the dems last time around.