From NBC's Mark Murray
In the cover story of the latest issue of National Journal, Ron Brownstein brings up a theme we've discussed here: the Republican Party's increasingly geographic isolation to the South -- and the potential political problem that poses for the party.
"Republican strength in the South has both compensated for and masked the extent of the GOP's decline elsewhere. By several key measures, the party is now weaker outside the South than at any time since the Depression; in some ways, it is weaker than ever before," Brownstein writes. "Today the GOP holds a smaller share of non-Southern seats in the House and Senate than at any other point in its history except the apex of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's popularity during the early days of the New Deal. What is perhaps even more dramatic is that Republicans in the past five presidential elections have won a smaller share of the Electoral College votes available outside of the South than in any other five election sequence since the party's formation in 1854."
In the story, former New Hampshire Rep. Charlie Bass (R) says this: "The current crisis of the Republican Party is whether it wants to be a regional party or whether it can try to expand ideologically and appeal to other regions."
So far in the first four months of the Obama presidency -- with Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania switching parties, with Jon Huntsman of Utah going to work for Obama (and refused to speak to a Michigan GOP country because he wasn't conservative enough) -- we've gotten an early answer to Bass's question.