Martin Longman wrote an interesting article over at Booman Tribune yesterday, GOP’s Irrational Exuberance. It’s about the Republicans and their conviction that they are going to totally rock in the 2014 elections. Longman isn’t so sure. He thinks that “they will have to develop a positive message.” If he’s right, then all hope is lost for the GOP in 2014, because the party just doesn’t have a positive message. That’s what made Reagan so important to the conservative movement: as vile as his policies were, he seemed like he cared. (He didn’t really; he was the leading edge of winner-take-all conservatism.)
What I think will happen in the 2014 election regarding the Republicans is what always happens. The Republicans will run the same old candidates and hope that the Democrats just don’t come out to vote. (This is unfortunately, a highly successful approach.) But as I discussed this last week, the GOP attempt to get better candidates won’t work. Almost half of the Republican Party is made of fools who believe the Fox News propaganda as faithfully as they believe the Bible.
You see, it doesn’t matter what the “establishment” Republicans want for candidates. What they believe in are exactly the same things that the Crazy 40 believe in. Oh, I know! The establishment types don’t really believe that it is better to let a pregnant woman die than get an abortion. And they don’t believe that God Hates Fags. But they know that they can’t upset the Crazy 40 or they will be decimated in the general election.
And let’s look back on the notable crazy candidates of the past. In 2010, it was Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell. But even if the Republicans had nominated better candidates who had won the general election, the Republicans would not have taken control of the Senate. In 2012, it was Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. But again: had better candidates been nominated and won the general election, the Senate would have remained in control of the Democrats. Right now, the Democrats have 55 seats (including two leftist independents who caucus with the Democrats) in the Senate and the Republicans have only 45. So even if all of the 4 crazy Republican poster children had won, the Democrats would still control the Senate.
What’s more, those last two elections were ones where the Democrats had vastly more seats to protect. And that is again the case in 2014. But in 2016, it will be the opposite. And that means a couple of things. First, it means that the Republicans only chance to take over the Senate is to do it in 2014. Second, it means if they take over the Senate, they will only have it for 2 years, under a Democratic president so it won’t do them much good anyway. And third, it means that the in 2016, the Democrats could again have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
As for the House, the gerrymandering continues to help the Republicans. But as each day goes by, the gerrymandering has less and less impact. I’ve argued that 2016 will be a huge year for the Democrats where what little gerrymandering advantage the Republicans still have will not be enough to maintain control of the House. Given that the Democrats will also likely keep the White House, 2016 will look a lot like 2008. But even that will not cause the Republicans to make any policy changes. That will have to wait until 2018, when they find that they can’t even win elections in an off year anymore. But they may not be willing to make changes even then; they may just disintegrate. (Note: the next redistricting takes place after the 2020 elections—an on-year election that is likely to benefit the Democrats. If I were a Republicans I would be terrified. Or maybe not, because if I were a Republican, I would be an idiot.)
Regardless, I think Republicans have advantages in 2014 that will allow them to keep the House and if they are very lucky, take over the Senate. It will be a last hurrah for them, however. And no amount of strategy is going to change 2014 in a big way. It will mostly be a wash, regardless of what candidates the Republicans manage to nominate.