Establishment Republicans should keep the champagne on ice until after the midterm elections. Too many are already popping corks, pronouncing their strategy of “crushing” the Tea Party during the primaries as a crucial step in their successful takeover of the Senate.
There are increasing signs, however, that the GOP might not take control of the Senate and may only make modest gains in the House of Representatives. In states like North Carolina, for example, the GOP candidate hasn’t shown the ability to wage a major-league campaign. In other key battleground states, the establishment GOP is supporting problematic candidates, like Monica Wehby in Oregon, who can alternatively be described as pro-Obamacare and a plagiarist. The National Republican Senatorial Committee handpicked Wehby over a strong conservative in the primary. She is now running 20 points behind.
In Kansas, the GOP Senate nominee, incumbent Senator Pat Roberts, seems to consider Virginia his home because that is his only permanent residence. A sizable number of Virginia Republican voters, meanwhile, aren’t going for Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman, who is the GOP nominee there, either.
National polls show the GOP to be about as popular as the heartbreak of psoriasis. The Democrats, for all their faults (and they are many) remain more popular. Republicans are not for anything. They are defined as simply being against President Barack Obama and certainly not for any form of federalism.
Since the 1950s, beginning with the rise of Senator Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley’s National Review, there has been a war for the soul of the GOP. But this time is different. The establishment Republicans loath the conservative-Reaganite-Tea Party-reformer-populists, viewing them as a serious threat. They stand as an indictment against the entire GOP insider culture.