Pressing the Mute Button
I wrote a couple of posts last week (here and here) about the potential for the 2012 presidential primary schedule to serve as the next big battle ground in the fight between institutional elites and movement conservatives for the soul of the Republican Party. As evidence of the potential for competitive candidate entrenchment in divergent states and regions, I recently came across this nugget from The National Journal’s annual Insiders Poll. When asked which voice in their party they would most like to mute, the first choice of 85 GOP strategists and insiders was former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
While we don’t know whether Sarah Palin will actually run for president, this response is nonetheless indicative of the larger schism existing in the Republican Party between its Washington political elites and the movement conservatives who are finding their voice elsewhere, with the tea bagger phenomenon and other grassroots organizations. I have noted previously that movement conservatives appear to have the upper hand at the moment, but many of the GOP strategists surveyed are used to operating the heavy machinery of Republican presidential campaigns, so they will likely move to reassert themselves at some point. There is always the chance that both sides could converge on the same candidate after a few contests, but we could also be in for a tremendous intra-party brawl.

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