Conservative Activists Expect Big GOP Losses in Congress

They say party needs to advocate a more conservative agenda.

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Conservative activists are already looking for ways to rejuvenate the Republican Party no matter who wins the presidential election today.

They predict that GOP losses in the House and Senate will be huge and will show that the party needs to turn in a more clearly conservative direction, and they want to insure that a strong conservative becomes the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The goal is to separate the RNC leader from the White House even if Republican John McCain wins the presidency.

Many conservative activists don't think McCain wants to be party leader anyway, and would prefer to go his own way in setting policy and working with congressional Democrats rather than sticking to conservative ideology. "If the president is compromising with the Democrats in Congress, you need a party chairman to define the party," says Grover Norquist, a prominent conservative activist.

The best course, Norquist says, is to arrange for "the party to be a separate entity from the president."

If McCain loses, the conservative reformers expect to have an easier time reshaping the party because there will be a power vacuum that they hope to fill as quickly as possible.