One of Andrew Sullivan's readers sums up the Republicans' Moderate Problem:
I can't tell whether the lack of serious attention given to the continued hysteria about our President-Elect still emerging from various corners of the Right is a good thing or bad thing. By hysteria I mean things like Congressman Jim Broun from Georgia equating Obama with Hitler and then his lame excuse of an apology. I also mean Sarah Palin using her 15 minutes to slime our President-Elect with Bill Ayers one more time, wink wink, and the 24/7 vitriol from demagogues like Hannity and priests who refuse to give Obama voters communion.
It's why as a 27-year-old voter, the Republican party has been off the table for me since I could vote in the 2000 election. No matter how much I like or identify with any of "conservative" ideas, I refuse to stand in any tent, now matter how big, with people like Sarah Palin, Jim Broun, and Sean Hannity.
Video from McCain-Palin rallies showing rabid, and frighteningly uninformed, supporters branding Barack Obama as everything from a socialist to a terrorist rightly freaked out more moderate voters and drove many over the edge into the Obama camp. As the reader says above, most people don't want to be associated with that nonsense.
The New York Times' graphic showing Dem vs. GOP gains in 2008 shows a vastly shrinking "base" for the Republicans and it seems to follow the Appalachian Mountain range. Trumpeting messages and trotting out candidates who appeal exclusively to a thinning margin is no way to win national elections and yet the battle for the soul of the Republican party seems centered on that very subject. Palin's cult is growing but it's an ever smaller pool from which it can draw and nobody else wants to swim there.