For Democrats just marginally amused by the mess that is the Republican presidential race, here’s a reason to get seriously into it. The GOP brand is so tarnished by the hard right turn of this campaign that what was once unthinkable is in the realm of possibility: Retaking the House of Representatives.
“We’ve gone from a gale force wind against us to a sustained breeze at our backs.” — Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (Financial Times, 2/28)
But don’t just take a Democratic leader’s word for it. Plenty of Republican elites worry about a collapse down the ballot as they ponder the increasing likelihood that their party will field a weak presidential nominee.
“Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama.’ Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, ‘My God, what a fucking mess.’ ” — former Reagan strategist Ed Rollins (New York Magazine)
“All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.” — David Brooks (The New York Times)
Democrats need 25 seats to take back the House from the Republicans. There was a time that even the most optimistic party operatives calculated they had a shot a no more than half of that. These days, those estimates are rising.
The trouble for Republicans is that their presidential race is narrowing its base by playing the politics of subtraction. The competition among White House rivals to target social conservatives who show up in primaries is serving to exclude moderate independents who decide higher turnout general elections for the House, Senate and the White House.
Of course, Democrats could always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They’re good at that.