[C]aving to the far right has never been good for [John McCain]. Every time he did it, he looked lamer and lost credibility. He lost respect from moderates, and on top of that, the people he caved to didn't respect him any more for it. Caving to the far right was a lose-lose every time he did it, and it was a losing proposition for everyone else who tried it, including Bush Sr., Forbes, and even Huckabee, who saw his hard-earned "religious right leader" position swiped by Sarah Palin despite his tenure as both a governor and a minister.
(emph. in original)
I feel a little sketchy poaching a comment from another blog for the body of a blog post, but this is a really great insight and I didn't want to forget it or lose track of it.
The same could probably be said about the Far Left (though nobody really panders to the Far Left these days), and about religious fundamentalists, or really, extremists of any stripe. Attempting to pander to extremists is always a lose-lose proposition, because you piss off the moderates, and you can never, ever, ever satisfy an extremist. That's almost the definition of extremist, in't it?