This is the ‘Party of Lincoln’ the same way the Honda Odyssey is the ‘Car of Homer’
Democrats are now favored to retain control of the Senate, according to ace poll guy Nate Silver. This is a stunning reversal. Just a few months ago, Republican control of the Senate seemed likely. Best-case scenario was a 50-50 split and prayer that the president would be reelected to send Joe Biden to upper chamber to break the tie.
But the Democratic National Convention not only boosted the president’s campaign, it consolidated Democratic voters behind candidates like Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin.
But we can’t just credit good old-fashioned campaigning. The key to the Democrats retaining the Senate – and with it the health care of over 30 million Americans – is the Republican Party’s inability to nominate sane candidates.
Republican primaries have turned into purity tests where the candidate who can do the best Rush or Beck impression wins. Groups like the Club For Growth feed millions into primaries to vote out anyone who has ever yielded to a Democrat in a traffic circle. The result is you get a Rand Paul – who is holding up a veterans jobs bill with his one vote – in the red states. And in purple states, you get folks who can never win in a general election year.
Much has been made of Todd Akin who helped reveal to the world how little Republicans know or want to know about the innards of the female body. But in Michigan, former congressman/walking punchline Pete Hoekstra lost the election before he even won the primary with a Super Bowl commercial that would have only won Archie Bunker’s vote.
Hoekstra is the worst of both worlds. He’s a blustery conspiracy theorist whose campaign reads like an email forward from your aunt who spent all of your inheritance buying gold and emergency rations because Glenn Beck told her. AND he’s a failed legislator with a record of supporting Bush and Cheney on about everything and tweeting his top secret location while on a official trip to the Green Zone in Iraq.
By nominating him, the GOP gave away a seat in a state where Republicans won everything but Miss Detroit in 2010. Thank you, Republican base.
As this campaign swirls to its conclusion, I’ve gone from thinking the GOP is an unstoppable Rove machine with billions in anonymous corporate donations to realizing that no matter how much money they have, they must suffer the whims of their base. And even when they get the candidate they think they want, their ideas are so unpopular it’s still hard for them to win.
Of course, this logic only works in general election years when people pay attention and vote. Even if 2012 works out for the best – as it seems it might – in 2014, crazy can win again.