Conor Friedersdorf takes a look at a recent USA Today/Gallup poll and comes away discouraged:
Like it or not, Americans regard Rush Limbaugh as the face of the Republican Party, he is able to drive the agenda of the conservative movement, and a lot of people on the right don’t find that problematic….Should this be the last time that a talk radio host breaks the 10 percent barrier in a poll like this, the GOP and the conservative movement will be a lot better off, and so will our country.
Obviously I agree, but in a way this news isn’t quite as grim for conservatives as Conor suggests. The full poll results are below, and among Republicans themselves Limbaugh is basically tied with Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich. But even that’s not the biggest takeaway. What the poll really shows is simply that Republicans have no leaders at all. This is probably fairly normal for a party that’s suffered the kinds of setbacks the GOP has lately, but the good news is that even given the obviously enormous vacuum on the right, Limbaugh still can’t break 10% among self-identified Republicans as the voice of the GOP.
Granted, this is grasping at straws at bit. Still, it’s better to have a vacuum from which a new leader can emerge, with folks like Limbaugh, Cheney, and Gingrich yipping around in the mud, than to have one of those guys already a clear top dog. Plus there’s this: Sarah Palin didn’t make the list at all. That shows a disturbing amount of common sense from the loyal opposition.