From time to time, members of the liberal blogosphere will ask their brethren to slow the '08 optimism. Yes, the Republican frontrunners are all comically out of step with the GOP base, but one of them has to win the primary, and at that point the winner's moderate stances will make him appealing to independents. It may be a tougher road for the Dems than anyone thinks.
My response is this. Yes, some independents may find Romney's previous embrace of gay rights appealing, and some may find Giuliani's pro-choice position attractive, and yet others may find McCain's history of bucking the Republican party line honest and refreshing. I'll concede that: let's say the Republicans manage as much support from independents at the Democrats do.
The Republicans are still more likely to lose. Why? Because the Republican base is so depressed by their options and so sick of the mismanagement of the people they sent to the White House last time that they won't vote. And now my theory has evidence to back it up:
In Kentucky's gubernatorial primary, held yesterday, 348,759 Dems cast votes in the Democratic primary. Only 202,131 Republicans cast votes in the GOP one, despite the GOP race being higher profile. That's less than two-thirds, and in a reliably red state! It's irrefutable: Republican voters are disillusioned, and disillusioned voters don't make contributions, don't walk precincts, and don't head to the polling booth on election day.
Now consider this: if just five percent of the voters who voted for Bush in 2004 choose to stay home in 2008, and the Democratic nominee gets the same number of votes as Kerry, the Democrat wins the popular vote. You can find 2004 results here, do the math yourself.
And the Democrats' X-factor? No Karl Rove pulling get-out-the-vote magic tricks out of his hat.