If The GOP Establishment Is So Smart, Why Isn’t It Winning 2014 Midterms (Without Obama’s Help)?
The 2014 GOP wave confidently predicted by party hacks after the Establishment’s string of ruinously expensive narrow primary victories is showing ominous signs of being just a ripple. No surprise: while the conventional MSM/ GOP consultant narrative blames “extremist” Tea Party candidates for recent defeats—ignoring the fact that Establishment candidates failed too—the reality is the Republican Establishment has a thirty-year history of blowing elections, basically because it fails to mobilize the party’s white base. Ironically, if the GOP does win this year, it may be because some candidates are finally mentioning immigration—and because the Obama Regime goes for Administrative Amnesty.
Signs of ripple are everywhere:
So where’s the wave? This is President Obama’s sixth-year-itch election. The map of states with contested Senate seats could hardly be better from the Republicans’ vantage point. And the breaks this year—strong candidates, avoidance of damaging gaffes, issues such as Obamacare and immigration that stir the party base—have mainly gone the GOP’s way, very unlike 2012.
Nonetheless, the midterms are far from over. In every single one of the Crystal Ball’s toss-up states, (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina), the Republican Senate candidate has not yet opened up a real polling lead in any of them….GOP hopes in the Senate have been dashed in the previous four elections; if there’s a fifth this November, Republicans will have only themselves to blame.”
[Surf’s Up| there be a GOP wave in the Senate—or a wipeout?by Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley, POLITICO Magazine, August 25, 2014]
WASHINGTON – It’s almost Labor Day, the traditional kick-off to the final stretch of congressional elections. And this was considered a pretty good year for the Republicans to take over the U.S. Senate.
And that, of course, would change Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s job title to “majority leader,” if he wins his own race.
Well, right now, there’s no GOP wave out there, as far as some top analysts can see. Indeed, a Republican takeover of the Senate is not entirely a sure thing.
Analysts: don’t expect a GOP wave in Senate, by James R. Carroll, Louisville Courier-Journal, August 27, 2014
Commenting on these reports, Rush Limbaugh said savagely:
Have you heard any Republicans say, “We have got to secure the border and we have got to stop this wanton invasion of illegal alien children”? Have you heard any Republican stand up and say anything in opposition to what’s going on now? Have you? I haven’t. It’s, to me, striking.
And yet the Republicans, people talk about a wave election, how is that going to happen? Are they sitting there really believing that the only or the best thing to do is to shut up and don’t become targets and let the Democrats commit harakiri and, come November, people will vote Republican automatically ’cause they’re so fed up with the Democrats? Is that what the thinking is?
… [I]sn’t it ironic? The GOP, despite everything, is still depending on the Tea Party for a huge wave victory in November.
Can Anybody Find the GOP Campaign?, Rush Limbaugh.com, August 27, 2014
The GOP Establishment’s record of ruin began in 1988, when it regained control of the party after George H.W. Bush, lying through his teeth and running as Reagan III, won forty states and a larger share (53.5%) of the popular vote than any subsequent president. Pat Buchanan judged in Right from the Beginning that the “largest vacuum in American politics” in 1988 was to the right of Ronald Reagan. Yet in the years that followed, the Republican Party ran a series of corporate centrists who either blew winnable elections (George H.W. Bush in 1992, Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012) or won pitifully narrow victories (George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004). In the process, Kevin Phillips’s “Emerging Republican Majority” coalition that elected Nixon, Reagan, and (once) George H.W. Bush, was despised and allowed to disintegrate.
In all of these cases, the GOP Establishment got the candidate it wanted. And in all of these cases, they lost, with the partial exceptions of the Bush II Presidencies—which turned into a catastrophe.
Now the GOP Establishment seems poised to replicate this record of failure, this time in the battle over the Senate. And, remember, the Establishment owns this election cycle, having waged war against its own base.
Republicans need six seats in order to retake the Senate, and they’ve already caught some lucky breaks, as when the Democratic candidate in Montana withdrew over a plagiarism scandal. [Democrats face a steep climb in Montana Senate race, by Harry Enten, FiveThirtyEight, August 7, 2014]
But with Obama’s unpopularity on the immigration issue, American foreign policy seemingly rudderless, and the economy stagnant, the real question is the same one as 2012—how does the GOP even have the potential to lose to these guys?
But it does:
- Incredibly, the GOP is in danger of losing its Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is barely holding off a challenge from Allison Grimes, up only 3 points according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls as of August 28, 2014. [Mitch McConnell Is Headed Down the Stretch, by Jonathan Martin, New York Times, August 27, 2014].
- In Virginia, Establishment caricature Ed Gillespie is being destroyed by Mark Warner. (RCP average: Warner + 18.7%…!!!)
- In North Carolina, Establishment candidate Thom Tillis defeated conservative challenger Greg Bannon, who had won the endorsement of Ann Coulter, Ron and Rand Paul, Gun Owners of America, and other groups. [Thom Tillis Wins Primary In North Carolina Senate Race, Huffington Post, May 6, 2014]. But he is now trailing Democrat Kay Hagan according to the most recent poll. [New N.C. Senate Poll, by Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2014]. With the defeat of the “constitutional conservative” Bannon, Tillis is also bleeding support to an especially goofy Open Borders libertarian. (RCP average: Tillis + 1%).
- In Georgia, the GOP nominated a “Wall Street turnaround specialist” in David Perdue [David Perdue’s business background looms large in Senate run, by Greg Bluestein, Atlanta Journal Constitution, August 8, 2013] He’s currently losing to Democrat Michelle Nunn in the most recent poll [Democrat Michelle Nunn leads Georgia Senate race: poll, by Seth McLaughlin, Washington Times, August 25, 2014]. (RCP average: Perdue + 4.2%).
- Michigan has been slipping away from GOP nominee Terri Lynn Land. [Michigan Senate race a rare bright spot for Democrats, by Benjy Sarlin, MSNBC, July 29, 2014]. (RCP average: Peters + 3.2%).
- In Alaska, Karl Rove-backed candidate Dan Sullivan starts off floundering against Mark Begich. RCP Average: Begich +4.6%
- In Arkansas, a recent poll shows the Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor with a slim lead. RCP average: Cotton +1.7%.
What’s happening? The GOP Establishment, by definition, is allergic to economic populism. Meanwhile, the Democrats have seized on it as a way to challenge Republicans on what should be safe territory. [Democratic Strategists prescribe populism to cure party ills, by David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2014]
As an illustrative example, let’s look at Mitch McConnell’s critical race in Kentucky. McConnell has a relatively positive record on immigration by GOP standards, though he’s fallen to the usual clichés like saying that the GOP is the “Party of Immigrants.” However, his favorability ratings in the state are terrible, and he is leaning heavily on the grassroots appeal of Rand Paul to get him through the general election. [How Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul became best buddies, by Paul Kane, Washington Post, August 5, 2014]
His opponent Allison Grimes’s strategy is to paint McConnell as a misogynist who “treats women unfairly.” Grimes also specifically supported the Gang of Eight amnesty/immigration surge. [Grimes ‘very watchful’ of Senate issues, urges McConnell on immigration, by Joe Arnold, WHAS11, June 24, 2014
However, she is also posing as a populist, accusing McConnell of wanting “to ship our jobs overseas.” [Grimes, McConnell Hurl Insults At Annual Kentucky Free-For-All, by Eliot Nelson, Huffington Post, August 4, 2014]. Some Kentucky Democrats are slyly implying that McConnell’s marriage to former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao “explains” why Kentucky jobs are “going to China,” to the indifference of the Main Steam Media. [In Kentucky, Elaine Chao Endures Racist Attacks From Liberals, by Ron Christie, Daily Beast, August 5, 2014]
As patronizing reporters note, the Democrats need socially conservative white workers to win this election. [The Coal County Contest that Will Decide the Senate, by Pema Levy, Newsweek, August 5, 2014]
Grimes’s entire campaign is simply about trying to fool them—and it might work.
As this race and others show, the GOP needs to connect immigration patriotism to other policies. It can’t just be about “opposing Obama.” Instead, they should co-opt rhetoric used by Democrats and talk about income inequality, trade, and support for American workers. David Perdue beat Jack Kingston for the GOP Senate nomination in Georgia by running against the Chamber of Commerce.
There is already an example—the of Senator Jeff Sessions, who has contrasted immigration patriotism to the Democrat/RINO support of corporate greed. Sessions is also running for re-election this year—and Democrats did not even bother to nominate an opponent.
National Conservatism isn’t just about doing what’s right—it’s also good politics.
The GOP has a priceless opportunity to follow Sessions’s lead and marginalize the Democrats for the next two years. But the Establishment, which sustains itself by promising electoral victory, apparently can’t do what must be done.
Thus Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, after an unimpressive and expensive primary victory over immigration patriot Joe Carr in which he simply lied about his support for Amnesty, could not prevent himself from going back to supporting it.
And if the Establishment fails the historic American nation again this year—they should be forced to close up shop.
One good sign: a few GOP Senate candidates have mentioned immigration in this cycle—Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Scott Brown in New Hampshire (where the issue is widely credited with a recent poll showing the race tightening dramatically) and even Terri Lynn Land in Michigan.
Of course, although the GOP Establishment’s performance thus far is characteristically lackluster, it’s still early in the campaigning season.
And, ironically, President Obama could bail the GOP out. Significantly, Alaska’s Begich, New Hampshire’s Shaheen, Arkansas’ Pryor and North Carolina’s Kay Hagen have all just come out against Obama’s rumored plan for a massive Administrative Amnesty. [More Senate Democrats hit the panic button on immigration, by Gabriel Malor, HotAir.com, August 24, 2014.]
But Obama seems to be going ahead anyway. Maybe he doesn’t like white liberals either.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.