The House and governors have written the issue script for the primary, making questions of identity and electability more important
GOFFSTOWN, N.H.--The world will little note nor long remember much (any?) of what happened at the first full-scale Republican presidential debate here on Monday. And yet the low-key encounter still offered important clues about how both the Republican primary and the general election may unfold.
The debate's key message was that Republicans have coalesced around an economic agenda that will propose sharper reductions in federal taxes, spending, and regulation than the party has offered in decades. That convergence will diminish the role of ideology in the nomination contest--but then increase it in the general election.
From National Journal:
PICTURES: Meet the GOP Presidential Hopefuls
The debate dramatized the near-monolithic consensus that has solidified in the GOP since 2008. After President Obama's victory, the dominant interpretation inside the Republican Party was that John McCain lost not because he was too conservative, but because he (and George W. Bush) were not conservative enough, particularly on issues relating to Washington's role. In dialectical fashion, Obama's efforts in office to expand Washington's reach, particularly on health care, then ignited a tea party-led backlash that further enshrined small-government orthodoxy as the GOP's dominant intellectual force.