Jon Chait Again
Here he is on Bloggingheads with Matthew Yglesias, on economic crackpots.
One of the arguments Chait makes is that this "libertarian-tax cut" wing (along with DOC's "economic authoritarians") is the real power base of the Republican party, much more so than the social conservative (so-called "Christianist") element.
I think Chait is basically right. The "Christianists" on a Federal level got the stem cell research ban. And Alito for Sandra Day O'Connor. Some more restriction on abortions but no overturning of Roe V. Wade.
I think the mainline thread since Reagan has been the social right courted by the Republicans, promised, used for votes, and then left to dry after elections.
The social cons (Christianist being an extremist subset thereof) may have more influence at state and local levels, geographically dependent of course. But federally I don't think so.
Take torture, which say Andrew Sullivan has used as proof of his Christianist takeover of the Republican party thesis. That some Christians would approve of torture, shows to me how actually weak the Christianists are. Namely that they must contravene their own religious principles in order to still have a seat at the table with the power brokers.
The neocons would be another branch, for since losing the peace in Iraq have lost some influence. The Cheney-ite Unilateralist American strand though remains very strong and a Giuliani win would re-insert some neocon elements.
As someone raised a George HW Bush Moderate Republican I would like to see the Republicans of a Schwarzenneger/Tim Pawlenty (Gov. of Minn.) bent take the lead and drive policy for the Party. These "economic crackpots" as the party orthodoxy is the number one turn off for me of Republicans. That and movement conservatism (e.g. National Review). [Or movement liberalism for that matter.]
But this election, the party orthodoxy (tax cuts, stay in Iraq/surge is working, Fred Thompson has a little global warming denial to throw in, evolutionary denial from some) it is not pretty from my view.