My friends in the Democrat Party (and I do have such friends!) often miss an important point in their analysis of the future of the conservative movement. More people are identifying as conservative, but not as members of the Republican Party. Blame Bush and his spending if you must, but this is a real trend.
It is bad news if you work for the GOP, but most of these new “independents” are going to vote for the more conservative person in a race. There are more conservatives, in fact, in the United States than Democrats. A conservative party that appeals to right-of-center moderates not only can win, but usually will win nationally.
Young evangelicals, in particular, are still pretty traditional on hot button issues. I see no creeping socialism in their lives . . . but they don’t like be labeled GOP or even “conservative.” They prefer “moderate” or “independent,” but when they vote tend to vote a good bit like their parents . . . as last years Presidential year polls showed. In a horrid year for the GOP with a dreadful candidate for young Evangelicals in McCain, young white Evangelicals went with the oldster.
Talk about the ‘death of social conservatism’ should take that into account. If 2004 was the best year for the Republicans and white Evangelicals (as a percentage), 2008 was not that bad and presents no evidence of a sea change. Of course, white Evangelical Christian college professors have been looking and arguing for this change overwhelmingly since I was a student so long ago, but I don’t see it.