These religious right leaders are making bold threats, but they really don't have any choice. Dobson & Co., not to mention their loyal followers, believe they have enormous influence in Republican circles, and can dictate the party's direction. If the Republicans nominate a pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-gun control, thrice-married serial adulterer who wants to invest in stem-cell research, the religious right's masquerade will be over. It will be obvious that the movement is practically powerless in the party, and the groups' benefactors will have far less reason to keep writing the checks that keeps the movement afloat.This sounds right to me, though there's a good counterargument: judges. Dobson might be pissed, but what he really cares about is judicial appointments, and he knows that even Giuliani will appoint judges that he likes. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, by contrast, certainly won't. So in the end, even if Rudy gets the GOP nomination, he'll swallow hard and endorse him.
Really, though, it's almost impossible to predict whether the religious right will follow through on this threat. My guess is that they don't know themselves. But here's my question: If they do follow through, who will be their candidate? It has to be somebody willing to bolt the party, and with at least enough name recognition not to be a joke. Alan Keyes won't cut it. Has there been any buzz about this in evangelical circles? So far I haven't heard anything.