How Much Does Moderation Matter?

Gerson and Wehner argued that, based on economic fundamentals, Romney should have won in 2012 and that other factors cost the party the election. Seth Masket counters that “the evidence suggests that the Republican Party is as competitive as it ever was”:

 Richard Nixon strongly outperformed the economy in 1972, possibly due to his relative moderation compared to George McGovern’s extremism (a point that Gerson and Wehner note). And Lyndon Johnson may have had an advantage in 1964 running against a deeply conservative Barry Goldwater. Some political science studies have noted that members of Congress who vote too ideologically or too often with their party tend to pay an electoral price for it. And, to be sure, while polarization is occurring today among both parties, the Republicans appear to be running to their extreme more quickly than the Democrats are running to theirs. What we don’t see, however, is evidence that this extremism is hurting Republicans electorally, at least not yet. If the economy had been experiencing a recession last year instead of modest growth, Mitt Romney would be president today.

Bouie adds:

If reform happens, it will be because Republicans find themselves out of power for an unusual amount of time. A setback in 2014, a loss in 2016—those are the things that will prompt a reevaluation of the party’s policies and priorities.

Earlier Dish on Gerson and Wehner here.