The Washington Times - March 31, 2009, 11:58AM

Could the conservative movement already be on the verge of a comeback? To look at the political landscape, populist indicators and even the mass media, the answer might be a resounding - yes.

Put aside questions about the leadership skills of the current GOP chairman for the moment since the RNC has out raised the DNC in the last month (a positive sign in the right direction.) It seems, the political landscape is ripe with new (and even some old) conservative talent looking to capitalize on promises-made-promises-broken by Democrats like Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, whose cash-infused coziness with insurance giant AIG has critics calling him a hypocrite at best; the dismal popularity numbers combined with an even worse economic picture for Michigan’s inept Governor Jennifer Granholm; and the bailout train wreck that’s become the bane of the Obama administration’s existence that has turned heroes into Republican congressmen and governors who have taken a stand against government waste. Voters (and conservative Republicans) are taking notice.

A few races to keep an eye on: While Virginia still poses a challenge for Republicans in the 2009 governor’s race, opportunity abounds  with plans to pump tens of millions of dollars into the party’s nominee, Attorney General Robert McDonnell while Democrats duke it out over their pick before the June primary. In Connecticut, theNRO points out a promising GOP congressman whose looking to unseat a very vulnerable Sen. Dodd. In Michigan, on the same day President Barack Obama announced his wholesale take over of two of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Michigan congressman Pete Hoekstra announced his bid to run for the governor’s seat. Also the NY-20 congressional seat and the Alabama’s governor’s race are viable. And nationally speaking, there’s already word that Mitt Romney is in the (way too) early stages of building a 2012 presidential campaign. Considering the “current” (always subject to change) economic environment and a public exhibiting signs of bailout fatigue, Republicans so far, have fuel for fodder. 

Most telling for me though, is the viewing (and reading) habits of Americans. The liberal “Grey Lady” has been on a rapid descent that no amount of government intervention could (or should) ever fix, while the more conservative Wall Street Journal remains among the few papers maintaining strength and viability in the marketplace. On the cable television side, FOX News personalities (and professed libertarians) Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly have not only smacked down their time slot counterparts in the ratings, but the network itself is number one and CNN - for the first time ever - has found itself in third place behind FOX and MSNBC. As for radio, the much-ballyhooed conservative Rush Limbaugh has consistently maintained the biggest paycheck and largest radio listening audience in the nation, to the chagrin of those “Fairness Doctrine” Democrats looking to take him down at their own peril. So, just what does this say about Americans’ appetite for “alternative” news and information at a time when the president is still arguably pretty popular (though his rating has dropped to 50 percent) and we’re smack dab in the midst of massive media layoffs and cutbacks? I’d venture to say the question is a rhetorical one. 

The tide, if ever so slight, is shifting as some moderates and independents who voted for Obama grow skeptical (or fearful, depending on your view) of his massive government expansion plans. It could prove to be the open door (or window) for Republicans and conservative Democrats to inspire a wellspring of support and rejuvenation among disenfranchised conservative party activists who had fallen off in the past two election cycles. Of course it’s premature to make any definitive predictions. Because while there is “hope” for conservatives, there is already at least one hitch: the Republican “alternative” to the president’s budget - considered “dead on arrival” by Democrats - remains on life support.

Tara Wall is editor of TheConservatives.com