The explosion of the tea-party movement and the GOP's Reaganesque focus on spending, deficits, jobs, terrorism, and other kitchen table issues are having a major and beneficial impact on the party's 2012 hopes. Namely, for the first time in several elections, the nominee picked to take on President Obama might not have to push social conservative or Christian issues to energize the Republican base—and potentially scare off must-win independent voters.
Yes, the candidate will still have to take a position on Christian conservative issues like gay marriage and abortion, agrees GOP pollster Bill McInturff. But with the public more concerned about jobs, playing up those stances can make a candidate look disconnected with what voters really want their government to fix.
One potential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, makes the case that to win, Republicans need to pull out the heavy guns to attack what's ailing the nation, promoting balancing the budget, halting terrorism, and weaning the nation from Middle East oil.
"I, for one, hope that the voice of our party, the tone of our party will be a friendly and unifying one," says Daniels, who cited the election and warm conservative embrace of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who favors abortion rights, as proof that GOP voters are more concerned with their pocketbook than with their prayer book.