Jay Cost, after demonstrating that ‘enthusiasm’ is most useful in the primaries, but perhaps not so much in the general:
…it is not necessarily a problem for Republicans if they are not tremendously enthused about their nominee next year. Conservative dislike of Obama will take care of any enthusiasm gap in the general election. What they need to find is a candidate who shares their values, who can appeal to the middle of the electorate, who will as president implement as much of the party’s agenda as possible, and who can retain the support of the independents during his term. That candidate might turn out to be dull. But he’d still be a keeper. And very possibly a winner.
I have to agree (and I’m coming pretty close to formally endorsing Tim Pawlenty, which should surprise nobody), and it’s partially because of this old graph:
There’s ‘bad,’ and then there’s ‘worse.’ I suspect that the Republican base has had a crash course in the differences between the two, over the last four years*…
*Democratic activists absolutely hate it when you remind people that their party began seriously mucking things up when they took Congress in 2007. Pass it on!