September 1, 2016


Why Mitch McConnell's strategy to quash the tea party is working (Paul Kane September 1, 2016, Washington Post)

Senate Republicans, for the second straight election cycle, have surrendered none of their primary fights to conservative challengers.

In doing so, they left conservative hard-liners without a single banner victory to claim as their own in recent years. And Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) increased his chances of keeping the Senate in Republican hands in 2017 by ensuring that his crop of nominees is more palatable to general-election voters.

The handy victories by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in primaries Tuesday completed the sweep for the Republican establishment, duplicating a feat McConnell first set as a goal during the 2014 election season.

The dominance by Senate Republicans could provide the road map for GOP strategists in other races, particularly future presidential campaigns. It could also mean the overall weakening of the conservative movement's ability to raise money and pressure senators to vote their way for fear they will draw a strong primary threat.

Time and again, Senate Republicans have quashed challenges from fringe conservatives -- candidates who on paper sound a lot like Donald Trump, who overwhelmed establishment candidates in the presidential primary but has struggled to expand his message and gain traction in the general election against Hillary Clinton.

After seeing three senators fall during primaries in 2010 and 2012 and insurgents knock off establishment-backed Republicans in key seats, GOP strategists adopted an overwhelming-force doctrine for handling primary challenges. They leveraged their financial edge and set out to define the opponents early, before they could gain momentum among the conservative grass roots, using modern technology and also spending heavily on positive TV ads to improve the incumbent's standing among conservative voters.

The only party failure was really the presidential, where Trump's unintentional media saturation overwhelmed money, organization and actually qualified candidates.

Posted by at September 1, 2016 8:45 PM