It's not just the Republicans who are in danger of extremism that alienates the mainstream voters. Ruth Marcus, center left editorialist of the Washington Post, warns that the way Democrats lose is by being too extreme as well.
She cites a recent study that shows that Democratic Party activists are quite a bit more liberal than voters who identify themselves as Democrats.
This fact is compounded by the fact that those who identify themselves as independent but leaning Democrat are more likely to vote Republican than those who identify themselves as independent but leaning Republican are likely to vote Democrat.
The weakness of each party is oddly the very thing that party activists think is their strength - ideological commitment, passion for The Cause - extremism. I believe that whichever party is able to reject its own extremism is the party of the future. Right now, it seems to me that Obama is a fairly moderate liberal, and Romney is a fairly moderate conservative, despite the red meat they throw out to their extremist wings in an effort to keep them excited.
If the race is between these two, I would feel fairly comfortable with the choices presented. The Republicans are trying their best to get a passionate movement conservative on the ballot, but I think that they will end up settling on the pragmatic problem solver, Romney, in the end.
Who knows, we might even have an interesting race between two pragmatic candidates who discuss the issues and their positions. In truth, if they would actually speak of how they see issues in the same pragmatic way that they would like to govern, they might end up doing a lot of agreeing with each other rather rather than adapting ideological poses to satisfy their wings and trying to create wide differences between them.
Wouldn't that be a welcome relief?