Matthew Ygesias thinks the West Wing is getting the politics wrong with Alan Alda's moderate GOPer:
The idea of a pro-choice atheist securing the Republican nomination is absurd. Beyond that, the idea that such a nominee would be an unusually strong candidate posing serious problems for the Democratic Party is double absurd, some kind of Christie Todd Whitman fantasy universe. You know how liberals are always wondering why it's not possible to get working class white people to vote pocketbook issues instead of culture war concerns? Well, it's because Republicans don't nominate pro-choice atheists. Give it a shot, and the GOP is fucked. To be sure, such a candidate would help Republicans make some inroads among the white professional wanker crowd, but it would do absolutely nothing to help the party with the African-Americans, Hispanics, or union families who together comprise a majority of the Democratic base. Indeed, it would manage to drive Democratic margins among the latter two categories even higher. Simultaneously, Republican support among its largest base group would flatline.
The show did skip the part of how this guys wins the nod. But I think Matt gets it wrong is that Alda's threat comes from Character and Geography. Much is made of how good a campaigner he is and his great McCain-style strait talk. The other thing that make him strong is that he's from California. A GOP with California locked up causes real trouble for the Dem's electoral Congress. Remember WW isn't real it just has to seem real.