Now that the Republicans have moved “the center” another great lurch to the right, it would be a good time to revisit the assumptions of those who insist that the only way to win a presidential election is to appeal to the center. The intuition finds its technical “confirmation” in a favorite mathematical theorem of political scientists, the “median voter theorem,” which “proves” that the safest way to win an election is with 50 percent-plus-one of your votes, not by playing to your base, but by nosing yourself over the line by attracting the mass of voters that tend to swing between the two parties. But my suspicion is that the more times this game is repeated, the less safe it becomes, because the very ideological timidity it requires erodes the base.
That certainly has not been how the Republicans have been doing it.
And who can doubt that without the ideological fervor of the Democratic left this year, what George Bush would have won on Tuesday would have been a landside?