As Ray Ring observed back in July, there's a growing rift between conservatives and moderates in the Republican Party in the West. This is something that most of us have lost sight of over the past few months, during which the news has been about the contest between Republicans and Democrats, not the internal power balance of the Republican Party. But this election is going to have a huge impact on who controls the Republican Party of the future. Paul Krugman suggests in his latest column that if the Republican lose, the party may actually move further to the right.
Part of the reason is that Republicans are losing their moderate senators, either to retirement or electoral defeat. One place where this looks particularly likely is in Oregon, where Gordon Smith, who has the second-highest League of Conservation voters rating of any Republican senator, is trailing in the polls. Relatively green Republicans Norm Coleman, of Minnesota, and Elizabeth Dole, of North Carolina, are also in danger of losing their seats. In the short term, this is good news for environmentalists, since the Democrats vying to take these seats are more environmentally friendly than the Republicans they'd be replacing. But in a two-party system, the other party is eventually going to win, which makes it hard not to wonder if it might be a good idea to keeps some moderate Republicans around.