The Washington Post had an interesting item today about voters replacing some of the few remaining Republican moderates in Congress with Democrats. As far as the Post is concerned, the GOP will now become more rigidly conservative. I'm not quite sure how anyone will be able to tell the difference.
The most prominent House Republicans who lost their seats were among the chamber's best-known moderates, including Rep. Jim Leach (Iowa), a veteran legislator who was not seen as endangered by either party; Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (Conn.), who won her first election to the House during what was otherwise a Republican shellacking in 1982; and Rep. Charles Bass (N.H.), who suffered in a historic wipeout of his party at all levels in the Granite State on Tuesday. [...]
The elimination of GOP moderates could push House Republicans farther to the right.... With fewer moderates, Republicans are less likely to feel pressure to bow to the wishes of moderates, especially on fiscal issues.
This seems like a fairly reasonable observation -- right up until you remember that Republicans haven't felt any pressure to bow to the wishes of moderates on any issues in recent years, so it's a little tough to see how, exactly, the GOP caucus is going to change now.
The few remaining Republican moderates were simply locked out of the process by the party's far-right mainstream. The centrists would ask for changes to the party platform, and they'd be ignored. They'd ask for changes to the party's agenda, and they'd be ignored. They'd ask for role in the party's leadership, and they'd be ignored. They'd ask for policy changes, and they'd be ignored. They would vote for the party's leadership, occasionally vote with Dems on key bills that wound up passing anyway, and then disappear.
With no meaningful influence, who's going to notice their absence?