DEMOCRATIC PARTY (DNC) - The Democrats regained control of the US House and US Senate in the 2006 elections, and of the White House in the 2008 elections (plus widened their congressional advantage). Democrats also control several key governorships (including PA, NY, MI, IL, VA, OH, NJ, NC, MO, CO, VA and WA) and many state legislatures. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean tried a new "50-states strategy" approach to rebuilding the party since becoming DNC Chair in 2005, abandoning the old "targeted states" approach in favor of building a 50-state party organization (which proved largely successful, and was generally adopted by the Barack Obama campaign in 2008). While prominent Democrats run the wide gamut from the near Euro-style democratic-socialist left (Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich and the Congressional Progressive Caucus) and traditional liberals (Barack Obama, Russ Feingold, Nancy Pelosi) to the Dem center-right (Evan Bayh, Harry Reid and the NDN) to the GOP-style conservative right (Ben Nelson, Gene Taylor, Evan Bayh, and the Blue Dog Coalition) to the pragmatic Democratic Leadership Council's "centrist" moderate-to-liberal style (Hillary Clinton, Mark Warner, Harold Ford Jr, Joe Biden). The Democrats swept into office in '06 and '08 include a combination of some vocal progressives on the left, some centrists, and a some conservatives on the party's right.
REPUBLICAN PARTY (RNC) - Republicans lost control of the big job in 2008: the Presidency. The party was swept out of office in response to the public's high disapproval rating of President George W. Bush. The GOP also held control of the US House from the Gingrich "Contract with America" anti-Clinton election sweep of 1994 until they were ousted from power in 2006 in a backlash to the Iraq War and corruption concerns. Despite these setbacks, the GOP still holds several key Governorships (including TX, CA, GA, MN and FL), and narrowly held majority status in the US Senate in 1995-2001 and 2003-07. Following the back-to-back 2006 and 2008 defeats, the party is largely split into two warring ideological camps within the Republican Party, battling for control in preparation for the 2012 White House race. The conservative purists say the GOP lost the 2006 and 2008 elections because their Republican leaders "went Washington" with when they won control of Congress and "lost sight of true conservative Republican values." They argue the party needs to become uncompromisingly conservative, seeking ideological purity over pragmatism. US Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) said he would "would rather have 30 Republicans in the US Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs." The GOP pragmatists embrace the "Big Tent" view that the party is big enough to embrace people of widely varying beliefs -- moderates and conservatives alike -- so long as all agree on a few key core values. US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explained he wants "to build an open party that could win in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, as well as South Carolina ... Winning matters to me. I'm not giving this party over to people who can't win." Republicans are divided into several different ideological factions: traditional conservatives (John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Tim Pawlenty, National Council for a New America, and the Club for Growth), the Religious Right (Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, National Federation of Republican Assemblies and the Christian Coalition), the rapidly dwindling old Nixon/Rockefeller "centrist" or "moderate" wing (Charlie Crist, Olympia Snowe, and the Republican Main Street Partnership), libertarians (Ron Paul and the Republican Liberty Caucus), and a "paleo-conservative" wing that backs strict anti-immigration controls (Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan).