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Monday, October 24, 2016

WASHINGTON — Republicans feel good about this fall’s election even though their party is sharply divided and its brand is badly tainted.

The House GOP last week elected a balanced ticket of leaders in a relatively harmonious process. Nonetheless, the party’s right still complained that its voices were not heard.

And a party leadership that thought it had quelled the Tea Party rebellion faces a runoff in Mississippi on Tuesday that will end either in a victory for the insurgent challenger, or in charges that the establishment candidate prevailed only because Democrats crossed into the Republican primary to save him.

Is it any wonder that the GOP’s governing game plan for the rest of the year is to do as little as possible? Since the party can’t agree to anything that would pass muster with President Obama and the Democratic Senate, it will bet that Obama’s low poll ratings will be enough for them to make gains in House races and could give them control of the Senate.

All of this is why 2014 will be the year of living negatively.

The prospect of months of attacks and more attacks reflects the depth of disillusionment with Washington. This is the best thing Republicans have going for them, but it might also provide Democrats with their clearest path to holding the Senate. Consider the findings of last week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The number that got the most attention was the president’s depressed 41 percent approval rating. But the survey also found that only 29 percent had a positive view of the Republican Party while 38 percent had a positive view of the Democrats. Democratic candidates have remained competitive in many key races because so many voters find the GOP alternative unpalatable.

The survey also showed that Republican divisions are not the invention of right-wing talk-show hosts or bloggers. Republicans who support the Tea Party are well to the right of others in their party. As NBC’s First Read reported, 68 percent of Tea Party Republicans said that immigration hurts the United States, compared with only 47 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans and 42 percent of all Americans. And a PRRI/Brookings survey (with which I was involved) found that while 41 percent of Tea Party members favored identifying and deporting illegal immigrants, only 26 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans preferred this option.

By a 74 percent to 23 percent margin in the NBC/Journal poll, Tea Party Republicans disapproved of requiring companies to reduce greenhouse gases, even if this meant higher energy costs for consumers. By contrast, 57 percent of Americans and 50 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans backed the idea.

The Republican congressional leadership thus continues to be caught between an aspiration to appeal to middle-ground voters and a fear, reinforced by Eric Cantor’s recent loss, that efforts to do so will be punished by the party’s right, which plays an outsized role in low-turnout primaries. On policy — notably on immigration — this often means that the Tea Party’s view takes precedence over majority opinion among Republicans.

In electing Rep. Kevin McCarthy as majority leader over the more conservative Rep. Raúl Labrador, House Republicans were actually trying to avoid ideology altogether. To replace Cantor, they picked a pragmatist focused on winning elections and an extrovert known for making friends across factional lines. Policy ambition is not McCarthy’s calling card.

The victory of Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana as whip pleased many conservatives and Southerners, but not all — and especially not the most ardently conservative bloggers and talk-show hosts who influence rank-and-file Tea Party opinion. Erick Erickson of the Red State blog, for example, accused Scalise of having worked “behind the scenes to marginalize conservatives.” Rep. Justin Amash, a young libertarian from Michigan, said the result of the leadership races showed that the House GOP “unfortunately hasn’t heard the message loud enough.”

There will be more loud commotion on Tuesday in Mississippi’s Republican runoff between the Tea Party’s Chris McDaniel and Senator Thad Cochran, a six-term incumbent. McDaniel is seen as having the momentum, but his supporters are already attacking Cochran’s campaign for encouraging Democrats to participate in the Republican contest.

Cochran, a McDaniel email insisted, “is so desperate to keep his seat that he’s going to use Democrats to steal the Republican primary.”

So the next stop in the battle for the Republican soul could see either a victory that emboldens the Tea Party — or a defeat that will be blamed on Democrats and infuriate the movement.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is [email protected] Twitter: @EJDionne.

AFP Photo/Win McNamee

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  • FireBaron

    Here is another thing to consider. A Democratic voter who is dissatisfied with his party’s candidate will often cross over and vote for a viable Republican. A Republican voter who is dissatisfied with his party’s candidate will rarely cross over and vote Democratic, even though that candidate may represent more of his or her own personal beliefs. That is because many of today’s “far right” Republicans come from families that were traditionally “yellow-dog Democrats” before their Representatives and Senators crossed over to the Republican Party starting in the late 60s. The habit then was to vote for whoever the Democratic Party said to vote for. Now they do the same for Republicans. One other thing you can note about these folks, they generally are less well educated than others and are also usually in the lower economic classes.

    • paulyz

      I believe the reason that most Republican voters won’t cross-over to vote for a Democrat is because it isn’t just the man they will be voting for, but that candidate will follow lock-step with the Democrat leadership like we have seen. If there were Democrat candidates that would oppose the Democrat leadership, maybe then they would vote for them. In the Republican Party, there is healthy dis-agreement on issues.

      • awakenaustin

        Well, I “believe” you are wrong.

      • Roy C

        The answer to healthy disagreement in the Republican Party is the Tea Party!!

      • Allan Richardson

        I can tell you are a Republican because you use “Democrat” as the adjective; it is the NOUN for a person who belongs to the DemocratIC party. We could just as easily call your folks Publicans, in the King James Bible sense of that word, because your leaders promote the kind of “I got mine and I’ll get yours too, by any means necessary” attitude that the Roman-employed tax collectors in the Gospels displayed.

        Now can we get beyond the name calling to INTELLIGENT discussion? If you are a millionaire or billionaire, it is in your (short term) self interest to promote policies like the Ryan budget (condemned by the leader of Ryan’s own (alleged) religion, Pope Francis). If you are NOT one of those you are being deceived and used by them TO YOUR DETRIMENT. And all you get is the phony “satisfaction” of knowing that IF you ever become a millionaire, their laws will then work to your advantage; right now, not so much.

        It was liberals who gave you the 40 hour work week, unions, paid vacations, protection from bosses who would set up unsafe workplaces and take NO responsibility for injuries and deaths that resulted, gave you a Social Security pension that did NOT depend on good luck in the market, medical care for people 65 and older (so their CHILDREN would not be burdened by the parents’ medical bills), food and medicines inspected for safety, cars, trains and airplanes inspected for safety, etc. Not to mention the right to vote even if you are not the owner of a farm or plantation, not a man, and not white. And some (but not enough) protection from pollution in the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. All of these are changes for the better for all of us that the Tea Party and other right wing zealots want to reverse and take us back to the 19th (or maybe 16th) century.

        Reactionaries who want “a government just like great-grandma’s” are living in a past that never really existed. When they read “A Christmas Carol” they root for the OLD Scrooge NOT to change. The only thing worse than “government control” by legally elected authorities is control by brute force (or brute market force) by bosses who were NOT elected by the people, but who have BECOME a de facto government. That is not democracy, or a republic, that is FEUDALISM (I skipped over the other F-word because it is TOO modern). And remember, in a democracy, your vote counts, but in feudalism, your Count votes.

        I just noticed your name, paulyz. Since I know YOU don’t really care about discussing facts, I will address everyone else: paulyz will call me some disgusting name without ever addressing the facts I have presented, or the facts that were in your history books if you paid attention when you were kids. The intelligent rest of you, think about and fact check how we got out of the world of Dickens and how we may be heading back there if we vote Republican TODAY.

        • Jambi

          Well spoken!!! I doubt if paulyz will be able to read, digest, and understand what you have said, but …WELL SPOKEN!!!

          • paulyz

            Exactly what I mentioned, negative, useless personal comments from the average Liberal.

        • paulyz

          I believe it is you and other on here that are very negative and use foul person language, not me. I write very sensible solutions to your Leftist ideology.
          p.s. Is Obama a Republican or a Democratic. See how dumb using Democratic sounds in this case.

          The Democra”tic” Party of today is LONG removed from the days of the average working man. They have become the Party of BIG Federal Government Control and have very wealthy donors as well, especially the Unions. I worked in union labor my entire life but realized a long time ago that the Democrat Party no longer had my interests or the interests of the average working man. The Republican Party is the Party for everyone, not just special interests, and by a healthy economy, less Federal Government that is out of touch with the average American, they create more opportunities for everyone, not dependence from the Fed. Gov. which creates lack of ambition and expectations of something from others.

          p.s. You don’t mention “facts”, just opinions based on your biased ideology, just like MSNBC.

      • Sand_Cat

        And of course, the GOP guys are so independent!

      • elw

        There is nothing healthy about the Republican Party – it is in the mist of an internal war, losing membership and possible moderate candidates. It has slowly and surely been moving itself right out of main stream America as it has shifted further and further to the Right. .

  • AlfredSonny

    Just a year? GOP has been negative since November 5, 2008!

    • Sand_Cat

      I’d say further than that; it’s just been more driven by racial hatred and hysteria since then.

    • Even longer than that. On November 5, 2008, they just got really loud and obnoxious about it.

    • plc97477

      I think it started with reagan’s “government is the problem”

  • booker25

    The do nothing party has to start actually doing something, the Cantor schedule of 112 days is joke. The Hastert rule that isn’t really rule has to go.

  • sigrid28

    Maybe it’s time for term limits.

    • JPHALL

      We have tried that in California and things have gotten worse. The term limits have encouraged the newly elected to depend on the professional lobbyists who actually know the issues and how to influence other legislators.

      • sigrid28

        God forbid that newly elected officials listen to people who actually “know the issues” instead of voting along strict party lines or insisting on doing nothing at all, like members of the Tea Party. And influencing other legislators sounds like something bad, too–trying to compromise, another no-no for members of the Tea Party. Your idea of “worse” may be another person’s idea of better.

  • howa4x

    Republicans can’t do that vision thing which people want to hear from leaders. Because Boehner is sitting on a fault line in the party he straddles the widening gap between the sides. The GOP itself is now driven by the donor class and bows to their wishes over the public good. This is why they seem out of touch with the majority of American’s opinions. They are left with trying to buy elections outright not wining them on ideas. They also have too many outside spokespeople who are self appointed, like Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, the Koch bros, the worst of the NRA, Rush, Coulter, Hannity, Palin, Huckabee, Trump, Santorum, Gingrich and a legion of bloggers and local radio jocks, who all have a following, which prevents the GOP from having a single message. This is how Laura Ingram, a TV host, can jump into a house race and help unseat Eric Cantor against party wishes. They are being stretched like Gumby in all directions.
    Add to this mix the evangelicals and Tea party. And the GOP looks more like Toad’s wild ride. If they happen to win the house and senate it will be 100x worse, because they will have to actually produce legislation. It is not a good position to be in right now where wining is actually loosing. Even the governors that are making decisions running their states feel the wrath of this witches caldron. I’m just waiting for a complete civil war to start.

  • Jambi

    GOP ers are like a spoiled brat kid in a restaurant…if they don’t get what they want, then they’ll throw a temper tantrum which leads to the entire family having to leave without a meal at all…

    • The end of that metaphor is that, eventually, the rest of the family learns they’re better off not bringing the little brat to the restaurant in the first place.

      Which sets us back a great deal financially when we need to either hire a babysitter or book the little turd into military school, but in the long run, we’ll all be glad we did it.

  • elw

    Can anyone explain why the Republicans think that President Obama’s poll rating show they will win in November; especially considering that as low as the Presidents poll rating are they are still significantly higher than those serving in Congress? Every time I hear that said, I laugh because it is so myopic that it is pure nonsense.

    • plc97477

      The gotp are grasping at proverbial straws. The have nothing else so they have to place hope where there is none.

      • elw

        I would say it is more serious than that, perhaps a broken “group think” link.

  • paulyz

    The Left & the National Memo like to use class warfare & complain about the wealthy, but they always have ads like this showing people how to create “vast” wealth. Hypocricy maybe???

    Dear Cutting-Edge Investor,

    What happens when the “perfect business model” sustains a direct hit from the brightest minds working at Silicon Valley’s most innovative companies?

    An emerging technology threatening the Oracle of Omaha’s bread and butter is no longer a question of “if… but when,” according to the industry’s foremost research firm.

    Experts estimate it will create a new market valued at over $2 trillion… in the US alone!

    So if you missed out on Microsoft in the ’80s, AOL and in the ’90s, or 3D Systems just a few years ago… here’s your chance to catch the next life-changing innovative technology… BEFORE the crowd catches on.

    Because when Wall St. wises up… the big money will already be off the table.

    That’s why The Motley Fool is releasing this stunning new investor alert – to help individual investors like you jump onto the one company that will get you the biggest piece of the action.

    Click here to see the impossible (but real) technology that could make you impossibly rich.

    • johninPCFL

      Yes, ads pay the bills. This is no different than Glenn Beck’s three biggest advertisers: the first offers gold at inflated prices, the second gets you a Visa card even if your credit is bad (to buy the gold), the last is a legal firm to help you deal with bankruptcy (when you find out your gold isn’t worth half what you paid for it.)

      • BillP

        These trolls love to complain about anything and everything about this site. I’m not crazy about some of the investment ads. I have gotten into arguments with these trolls about how well the stock market has done since Obama took office. They usually offer the same excuse that the quantitative easement was the only reason for the huge gains. The other thing is that they push the “safer” investments of gold and silver, two of the most speculative commodities.

        • That gold and silver might be the only thing of value once the Emperor finishes trashing our economy and dollar.

          • BillP

            if the economy is trashed gold and silver will be trashed too. These commodities are some of the most speculative that exist. As for the President trashing the economy just check some items like housing prices, unemployment is down since he took office after being left with mess from the prior administration and the stock market is at or near record levels since Obama took office in 2009. You can call him any name you want, it doesn’t change the fact that he is and will be for the 2+ years the President of the United States. You trolls love to call him names but all it does is show how juvenile you are.

          • Gold and silver have been around for millennia, and will be valued long after the US dollar is gone, which, by some accounts, may be anytime now. Open your eyes. O

          • BillP

            If the US economy is trashed so will gold and silver. Most people who invested in gold or silver don’t actually have the physical commodity. It’s stored in some bank or other depository or they own shares in a gold or silver mutual fund. Either way if your doomsday prediction comes true they won’t have access to their gold or silver. I just love how you trolls just dismiss things without offering any provable facts. Please explain how these indicators are artificially inflated, just stating doesn’t make it true in the real world. You trolls have really drank too much of the T-Party kool-ade. How has the stock market indices calculation been changed, how has the unemployment #’s been changed. The stock market indices are calculated by the individual exchanges or companies like Russell or Wilshire, so I guess they are all in on this subterfuge!
            Your advice about stop investing in stocks sounds like you have been listening to right wing investors who over a year ago preached about a huge stock sell-off. It still hasn’t happened and in the meantime the stock market has risen another 20%, great advice. Your survivalist outlook is ridiculous what value would gold or silver have in this type of environment, if I have food, water, shelter and fuel why would I want your gold. I know you think it is great to call President Obama an Emperor but it just shows your juvenile outlook and behavior. You may want to check your gold investment it’s down 27.8% since 2011 while the S&P 500 index has risen 55.6%. Keep your day job, your investment advice skills need some work.