“I think the way a lot of Republicans are campaigning now—as resolute foes of big government who are also going to save Medicare from the Democrats—suggests that they understand the point of Grand New Party pretty well,” says Douthat. They’re just taking our insight, that even many conservative voters like the welfare state, and running with it in a cynical rather than a constructive direction.”

Salam agrees. “The base of the Republican Party is what we thought it was,” he says, “namely whites with economic anxieties. That explains the backlash to Social Security reform and immigration reform under Bush. And the Democrats gave us another opening, because they funded health care reform with Medicare cuts. That’s a big validation of Grand New Party’s argument.”

It’s an ingenious argument: We’re not wrong. We’re just not yet right. After the election, says Frum, after the GOP has recovered in record time, either it’s going to have to move away from its campaign rhetoric or it’s going to be unable to govern. “What happens in January,” Frum says, “when the GOP majority arrives and the Bush tax cuts expire, the U.S. economy has deflationary shock, we don’t have a program for pulling the economy out of inflation, and we don’t have permission from party supporters or permission from voters to compromise? You have people arriving in office with highly apocalyptic vision of a president but programs they don’t know how to execute on their own. It’s a formula for crisis.”