The GOP’s Senate Candidates

by Patrick Appel

Beutler sizes them up:

[T]he real issue isn’t whether the “Tea Party,” now vanquished, has been a liability for the Republican Party, but whether the Republican electorate is fractious and reactionary, and has thus kept the Senate out of reach for Republicans two cycles in a row.

The answer is yes. And Republicans have addressed that problem not by running shock and awe campaigns against individual “Tea Party” candidates, but by aligning behind candidates and incumbents conservative enough for the primary electorate yet polished enough (they hope) to avoid Akin-like admissions against interest. There are no Christine O’Donnells this year, but there are no Mike Castles either.

So the questions now are whether the current crop of GOP candidates can actually suppress the right wing Id, and, secondarily, whether the winning candidates of the American right can durably embed themselves into the political system. Just as we know that 2016 (a presidential year) will be a tough one for Senate Republicans, we can also project that conservatives who win swing states this year will face a much different electorate when they’re up again in six years. And come then, their conservatism will be a liability, not an asset.

Molly Ball argues that the Tea Party is still hurting the GOP:

Republican infighting is far more common and more brutal than that experienced by Democrats, egged on by a constellation of rabble-rousing conservative groups who pour money into ginning up the base. These battles, it hardly needs to be said, inevitably push the nominee far to the right in ways that may alienate moderate voters. North Carolina’s Republican Senate nominee, Thom Tillis, sought to reassure primary voters of his anti-Obamacare bona fides by boasting about how he worked to prevent the state from expanding Medicare; now his Democratic opponent, Senator Kay Hagan, is attacking him for his opposition to the expansion, which is generally popular.