Nixon began the process of stripping white Southerners away from the Democratic Party, and Reagan pretty much completed the process. The scope didn't become truly apparent until Clinton won the White House and all those Southern Democrats in the House flipped from blue to red, but that's what happened.
Reagan built his coalition with intellectual support from neo-conservatives and demographic support from neo-confederates. He wedded the old Main Street/Wall Street Republicans with the church pews of the Moral Majority. Aside from Cubans, his was a mostly white party and it could win massive landslides with white votes.
Those days are gone, and the panic that it has unleashed in the GOP is palpable at the highest levels. Louie Gohmert may be too stupid to
Rand Paul is only possible in a party that is struggling to re-articulate a vision that is both true to the Reagan Coalition and endeavors to address the coming demographic irrelevancy it faces.
But Booman is right that Paul is anathema to so many constituent parts of what remains of the Nixon-Reagan Coalition that his success is highly unlikely. My guess is that whatever Clown Car chugs over to Iowa, they are all going to attack Rand Paul. Santorum, Perry, Ryan, Cruz, Tweedledee...they can all take easy shots at Paul's heterodox positions.
It's going to be very, very important to limit losses in the Senate this cycle for the Democrats. While I have my issues with a Clinton Restoration, she does have the potential to create a landslide, especially if the GOP throws up a Caveman like Perry or a Sociopath like Cruz.
And as we've seen, having enough votes in the Senate is crucial to accomplish anything that a Clinton Presidency might want, especially immigration reform. That goes for the House, too.
The sixth year of a presidency is always brutal, but it's REALLY important for the Democrats to turn out their base in 2014, because 2016 could be a very good year.