Inside the Republican Victory

 

Not sure how many of you read this, but it’s a fascinating account from Robert Costa in the Washington Post. A few really interesting things that I pulled from it:

1.  The Pat Roberts campaign was really flatlining and would have lost had it not been taken over by the RNC.  This was a Weekend at Bernie’s moment. Mental note: don’t run out-of-touch 78-year-olds and expect them to win. Oh, and Dole is still the big dog in Kansas, at age 91.

2.  The mechanics of candidate quality behind the scenes were complex. Rove went all-in to keep a bad candidate in a safe seat (Cochran, Miss.) in order to get a better candidate in a potential swing seat (Brown, N.H.). And it was Brown who laid down the demand for “No Akins.” Probably the right trade-off, but you still can’t condone what they did to McDaniel and how they pulled that one out.

3.  The Dems are in disarray, and you could argue that whether consciously or not, Obama torpedoed many of Reid’s efforts to remain competitive. Regardless, he was utterly detached.

3a.  While it doesn’t call it out directly, the piece suggests that the Grimes campaign was a white-hot mess internally. As bad as any of the meltdowns that we expect on our side.

4.  Second point on candidate quality: the big push that Crossroads (Rove) made to improve quality was swinging large funding dollars to the candidates that they determined to be the best for the general election. Arguably, this is what won CO and IA, as they backed both Gardner and Ernst and effectively cleared the primary field of their competitors.

5.  Much as he seems a milquetoast, Reince Priebus was a lynchpin of this election. Unlike the Dems, who have built their data and turnout operation within the Obama campaign architecture, Priebus is building the GOP version within the RNC. While he’s not going to have Team Google, it does mean that it’s portable across campaigns, whereas the Democrats are going to need to hobble back to Obama and ask to use his system (and thereby cement his ongoing role as kingmaker within that party… should be fun to watch).

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  1. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    SPare:2. The mechanics of candidate quality behind the scenes were complex. Rove went all-in to keep a bad candidate in a safe seat (Cochran-MS) in order to get a better candidate in a potential swing seat (Brown-NH). And it was Brown who laid down the demand for “No Akins”. Probably the right trade-off…

    Because this gained us… what exactly?

    My oh, my what would we ever do without Rove’s brilliance.

    • #1
  2. Petty Boozswha Member
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Gotta disagree on McDaniel – with several years of talk radio banter on tape he would have been this year’s Todd Akins and the MSM would have trumpeted him non-stop.

    • #2
  3. Tuck Member
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    SPare: and thereby cement [Obama’s] ongoing role as kingmaker within that party

    Oh, I really do hope that happens.  Look how well it’s going already!

    • #3
  4. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Petty Boozswha:Gotta disagree on McDaniel – with several years of talk radio banter on tape he would have been this year’s Todd Akins and the MSM would have trumpeted him non-stop.

    Worse than this?

    Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) is doubling down on his belief that southern Republicans still believe in slavery and think the Confederates won the Civil War, implying that the Democrats’ major senatorial losses came as a result of racism.

    Rangel made the initial comments last week at a rally for incumbent New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Wednesday afternoon on CNN, Wolf Blitzer asked the congressman if he would like to clarify his statement:

    “I meant that they used to call themselves ‘slave-holding states.’ They’ve been frustrated with the Emancipation Proclamation.”

    The absurd smears always come out regardless of facts and the MSM will manufacture such slander regardless. It is far less the candidate that is the variable then how the GOP responds, a weak response that gives any credence to such absurdities only feeds them and the GOP seems to be obsessed with compulsive crouching.

    • #4
  5. Leigh Member
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Footnote to #1: the RNC knew more about what it was doing than many gave it credit for.

    • #5
  6. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Leigh:Footnote to #1: the RNC knew more about what it was doing than many gave it credit for.

    Why?

    Because victory was snatched while the President has embroiled us in a new war in the Middle East which supposedly we just left? While ebola has emerged as a potential infectious threat and this administration has proven themselves incompetent in dealing with it? While our economy continues to stagnant ever since the Great Recession and millions of Americans are not in the labor force and cannot find jobs?

    This election always should have been a gimme, a child should have been able to win it. That the GOP managed not to screw it up only shows that some modest improvements have been made. The election in 2012 should have been a gimme as well. I will give some modest credit for competency but it is absurd to be impressed by this.

    • #6
  7. A Beleaguered Conservative Member
    A Beleaguered Conservative
    @

    52, maybe 54, in the Senate.  243 in the House.  31 governors.

    While it may be difficult to admit, these remarkable results spell vindication for the Republican Party Establishment.

    • #7
  8. Leigh Member
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Roberto:

    Leigh:Footnote to #1: the RNC knew more about what it was doing than many gave it credit for.

    Why?

    Because victory was snatched while the President has embroiled us in a new war in the Middle East which supposedly we just left? While ebola has emerged as a potential infectious threat and this administration has proven themselves incompetent in dealing with it? While our economy continues to stagnant ever since the Great Recession and millions of Americans are not in the labor force and cannot find jobs?

    This election always should have been a gimme, a child should have been able to win it. That the GOP managed not to screw it up only shows that some modest improvements have been made. The election in 2012 should have been a gimme as well. I will give some modest credit for competency but it is absurd to be impressed by this.

    Well, I was making a very limited point about Kansas: namely that the RNC was much more aware than they were given credit that Roberts was problematic.  He was out-of-touch, they weren’t.

    As for the big picture, I’ll just say simply that I do not expect any political party to save the country.  Politics is a symptom, not the problem.  I don’t expect last night to work miracles.  I’m probably as concerned as you are about the overall direction of the country.  Nonetheless some really bad and dishonest ideas were repudiated last night, and some solid and principled people were put in positions with some influence, and I’ll celebrate that as a good thing in itself, without reservation.

    • #8
  9. Carey J. Member
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    What a piece of GOP Establishment spin. We won because we kept out the nasty old Tea Party candidates. I’m already hearing talk about with the larger GOP majority in the House, Boner won’t have to listen to the Tea Party types.

    I knew it was a mistake to vote this time.

    • #9
  10. Tuck Member
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    A Beleaguered Conservative: these remarkable results spell vindication for the Republican Party Establishment.

    No, they show how much the Dems have made the country despise them.  The phrase “better lucky than smart” perfectly describes the Republican Establishment.

    • #10
  11. Carey J. Member
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    A Beleaguered Conservative:52, maybe 54, in the Senate. 243 in the House. 31 governors.

    While it may be difficult to admit, these remarkable results spell vindication for the Republican Party Establishment.

    Vindication will come when they show us some results. Democrat Lite doesn’t count.

    • #11
  12. Carey J. Member
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Leigh:

    Roberto:

    Leigh:Footnote to #1: the RNC knew more about what it was doing than many gave it credit for.

    Why?

    Because victory was snatched while the President has embroiled us in a new war in the Middle East which supposedly we just left? While ebola has emerged as a potential infectious threat and this administration has proven themselves incompetent in dealing with it? While our economy continues to stagnant ever since the Great Recession and millions of Americans are not in the labor force and cannot find jobs?

    This election always should have been a gimme, a child should have been able to win it. That the GOP managed not to screw it up only shows that some modest improvements have been made. The election in 2012 should have been a gimme as well. I will give some modest credit for competency but it is absurd to be impressed by this.

    Well, I was making a very limited point about Kansas: namely that the RNC was much more aware than they were given credit that Roberts was problematic. He was out-of-touch, they weren’t.

    As for the big picture, I’ll just say simply that I do not expect any political party to save the country. Politics is a symptom, not the problem. I don’t expect last night to work miracles. I’m probably as concerned as you are about the overall direction of the country. Nonetheless some really bad and dishonest ideas were repudiated last night, and some solid and principled people were put in positions with some influence, and I’ll celebrate that as a good thing in itself, without reservation.

    Time will tell how solid and principled they are.

    • #12
  13. Klaatu Member
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    This election always should have been a gimme, a child should have been able to win it.

    This was a series of elections and very few elections are gimmes.

    • #13
  14. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Klaatu:This election always should have been a gimme, a child should have been able to win it.

    This was a series of elections and very few elections are gimmes.

    I am certainly not denigrating all the effort of those involved and who did the very hard grunt work of campaigning. But in comparison with other opponents faced in previous elections there was a very easy glide path for the GOP to follow there, rolling downhill is not the same as climbing a mountain.

    • #14
  15. SPare Member
    SPare
    @SPare

    Carey J.:What a piece of GOP Establishment spin. We won because we kept out the nasty old Tea Party candidates….

    That isn’t how I read it.  It’s that candidate quality matters more than anything.  In the 2012 and 2010, low quality candidates of both the Establishment and Tea Party wings lost.  Todd Akin didn’t lose because he was Tea Party, he lost because he was a doofus.  Similarly Linda McMahon didn’t lose because she was Establishment, but (in part) because she’s tied to pro wrestling.

    The Establishment/Tea Party distinctions are starting to blur in my opinion, as people who initially got motivated by the Tea Party begin to take over the Establishment from the bottom up.  I’m not sure how you classify people like Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, Dan Sullivan and the overlooked but excellent Ben Sasse, but you could make a strong argument in each case that there’s an element of both Tea Party and Establishment in them.

    • #15
  16. virgil15marlow@yahoo.com Member
    virgil15marlow@yahoo.com
    @Manny

    Got to give credit where credit is due.  The establishment ran it well and coordinated with the tea party at various times when it could.  They both got over the primary battles.  Kudos all around.  We need to do this for every election.

    • #16
  17. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Why not both? In the old days the party elders played a critical role in evaluating candidate quality. I think it’s still an important role. The tea party grassroots enthusiasm bespeaks a frustration with some candidates on offer by the establishment. It was probably the right move to block McDaniel. The larger question is why old bulls like Cochran and Roberts are propped up past their sell by dates. One of the functions of the party establishment should be to identify and promote second and third stringers. To have a Roberts replacement “standing in the door”. To have the strategic vision to have “the talk” with super annuated office holders.

    One other point. If you “represent” a state, you should have a permanent home there. What a rookie unforced error to list your parent’s home as your residence. Or worse, to not even have one in your home state. It’s either a lack of attention to a critical detail or an indication that you have been captured by the cult of governance.

    • #17
  18. Klaatu Member
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    I am certainly not denigrating all the effort of those involved and who did the very hard grunt work of campaigning. But in comparison with other opponents faced in previous elections there was a very easy glide path for the GOP to follow there, rolling downhill is not the same as climbing a mountain.

    Again, this was a series of elections. Republican candidates did glide to victory in those for open seats in red states (South Dakota, West Virginia, Montana) as expected and even one against an incumbent with a popular family name (Arkansas). But there were also races where the GOP prevailed in purple states (NC, Iowa, CO) and even picked up some very blue state governorships (MD, MA). These were elections that could have gone either way and poor candidates could have easily lost and even poisoned the well for some of the other quality candidates around the country.

    • #18
  19. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    I’m more and more impressed by Mitch McConnell. IMO, he has a much better feel for how to pick the right fights in DC. Boehner is too willing to deal and the “firebrands” let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    • #19
  20. Leigh Member
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    SPare:The Establishment/Tea Party distinctions are starting to blur in my opinion, as people who initially got motivated by the Tea Party begin to take over the Establishment from the bottom up. I’m not sure how you classify people like Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, Dan Sullivan and the overlooked but excellent Ben Sasse, but you could make a strong argument in each case that there’s an element of both Tea Party and Establishment in them.

    The “Establishment” (loosely defined) is fine with genuinely conservative candidates if they believe those candidates can win.  And the “Tea Party” (loosely defined) is fine with disciplined candidates who don’t breathe fire if they believe those candidates are genuinely conservative.  It’s not always Cochran vs McDaniel, where the candidates were almost caricatures.

    One lesson of 2010-2014, though, is perhaps that a lackluster candidate (as Thom Tillis was by all accounts) does much less damage than an undisciplined, reckless candidate of the Akin or O’Donnell manner.

    But also, discipline doesn’t mean you never think outside the box.  Exhibit A: Senator-elect Joni Ernst.

    • #20
  21. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I find this graphic rather interesting:

    Age Trends In US Elections

    Now, there are progressive pundits interpreting this by saying that the Republicans are the party of the reactionary elderly, desperately trying to hold back inevitable social change, once they finally die off and leave the country to the enlightened young of course.

    If that’s true, then:

    • Why did the enlightened young stay home?
    • How did a cohort which started voting in the late 60s/early 70s become so reactionary, and what will stop the same process from happening to today’s enlightened young?
    • #21
  22. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Roberto:

    SPare:2. The mechanics of candidate quality behind the scenes were complex. Rove went all-in to keep a bad candidate in a safe seat (Cochran-MS) in order to get a better candidate in a potential swing seat (Brown-NH). And it was Brown who laid down the demand for “No Akins”. Probably the right trade-off…

    Because this gained us… what exactly?

    My oh, my what would we ever do without Rove’s brilliance.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think that SPare did take that from the article, and I don’t believe it is true. Knock Rove all you want for the things he did do, but he didn’t spend significantly on the primaries this cycle. He did set up a fund to do that, but he didn’t end up doing anything with it.

    What Rove did do was run a ton of ads in various different races in the general. Obviously, now that he isn’t dominating any campaigns, merely supporting a large number of them, it’s not easy to tell how helpful he is; the metrics on why a particular campaign wins or loses are very weak. Still, I get the impression that he does a fair amount of good there, and little harm. His position as a pundit may be harmful, but I don’t watch television and can’t comment on that.

    • #22

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