Political Animal


October 18, 2012 9:29 AM Senate GOP Blame Game

By Ed Kilgore

It’s entirely possible that Republicans will get a few breaks and a last-minute battleground state tail wind and win control of the Senate on November 6. But it ain’t looking good for them, as a long and meandering Politico piece from Catanese and Raju shows. Having entered the cycle thinking Senate control was a can’t-miss proposition, given an incredibly favorable landscape (Democrats defending 23 of 33 seats in a viciously wrong-track atmosphere) and a new determination to find attractive and credible wingnut candidates as opposed to people who seemed to have drawn straws for Republican nominations at a John Birch Society mixer.

If they fall short for the second straight cycle, Beltway Republicans can’t just blame it all on the Tea Folk, as they did in 2010 when Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle and Ken Buck won highly contested primaries and then lost after crazy-person antics in the general election. Yes, one Tea Party purger, Richard Mourdock of Indiana, is in unexpected trouble. But so, too, are GOP Establishment war horses and more conventional conservatives. And even in the bad-candidate-poster-boy situation, Missouri, Todd Akin wasn’t any more ideologically risky than the two candidates he defeated in the primary.

At the moment, the situation is dire enough that we are all having to consider the possibility of a scenario almost no one had anticipated earlier: Mitt Romney entering the White House with Democrats retaining not only “veto power” in the Senate via the filibuster but actual control of the chamber, with enough votes (if they stand firm) to block enactment of the Ryan budget via reconciliation procedures. You’d best believe the pressure on Romney to avoid any contaminating contact with Democrats during the transition would increase exponentially.

As Catanese and Raju note, however, enough of the very close races (particularly Virginia and Nevada) are in presidential battleground states that a Romney victory would probably give GOPers just enough juice to win 50 seats. But that’s no longer anything like a sure bet.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • schtick on October 18, 2012 9:56 AM:

    My major question is, if Willard loses and they lose Senate and a large number of House seats, are they going to clean up their crazy wacky party or get sneakier about fawning for the rich only? Coming from a family that was always Republican and an area with mostly Republicans that are now calling their own party "the circus of clowns" and leaning towards Obama, THEY are wondering when sanity will come back.

  • c u n d gulag on October 18, 2012 10:13 AM:

    To today's Republican Party, "Life is like a box of chocolate's."

    And isn't it a shame, that with more than a few nuts in that box, they have contaminated the whole package, just at the time that more and more people are finding themselves with nut allergies.

    It turns out that people are starting to realize what they WILL get with the Republicans box of chocolates:
    Enough nuts to kill them, or the party.

  • mad_nVT on October 18, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Regarding Democrats: "if they stand firm."

    Yeah, right, if Democrats had a spine, and a vision, then the country wouldn't be in the huge friggin mess it's in--- like having a couple of frauds such as Romney & Ryan running at about 50% in the polls.

    Maybe the Democrats can learn how to stand firm and stand for something. Maybe.

  • T2 on October 18, 2012 10:27 AM:

    If the Dems keep the senate, at least they won't have LIEberman, Snow and Collins to suck up to for votes. IF the Dems keep the Senate and Romney wins, I'd really like Harry Reid to convene a meeting to outline a plan to give NO victories to Romney for the goal of making him a one term president. Goose-Gander.

  • castanea on October 18, 2012 10:43 AM:

    "Yeah, right, if Democrats had a spine, and a vision, then the country wouldn't be in the huge friggin mess it's in..."

    I'm more than a bit weary of this sort of BS coming from apparent fantasyland liberals.

    If the Democrats stood completely firm on everything, we'd still have the crazed rightwing driving the country down, and we'd still have an ignorant, disengaged-from-reality, fundamentalist Xian electorate voting for that rightwing.

    If Democratic politicians move to the center, or even a bit rightward themselves, it's because that is where the reliable votes are. Too many on the hard left fail to realize that they are in the vast minority in American politics, and too many on the left are willing to abandon a Democratic candidate just because s/he fails some sort of ideological purity test.

    Courting votes from the center or even the center-right provides more bang for the buck than trying to court the favor of fickle leftists.

    Until those fickle leftists learn that maintaining a unified opposition to the rightwing in America is important to the lasting success of liberal policies, and learn to support (without whining) the most electable Democrat in each race, we will continue down our national pathway to doom.

  • Renai on October 18, 2012 10:51 AM:

    Building on Mad_nVT's post, what is the best governmental scenerio for Democrats?

    Given how low folks rate Congress now, do Dems want to be viewed as the reverse image of this current obstructive, do-nothing Congress should Romney get in? I see the value of obstructing him, but how can the people view that future Congress any more favorably than they do this one? Dems seriously need to do some reputational damage control and becoming the antithesis to Romney, the way this congress is with Obama, does not seem to me a winning situation.

    Congress really needs to start operating for the nation again. The optimal scenerio as I see it (and this includes a full Dem majority) is Congress strengthening the Democrats in the Senate, keeping Obama, and letting the kindergarten House stay Republican.

  • Frank Wilhoit on October 18, 2012 10:59 AM:

    "...[1] maintaining a unified opposition to the rightwing in America is important to the lasting success of liberal policies...[2] support (without whining) the most electable Democrat in each race..."

    The difficulty is that [2] doesn't lead to [1] . At this point, voting Democratic is nothing more than a protest vote against a Republican Party that is openly totalitarian and almost openly genocidal. I hasten to add that, in my view, that protest vote is morally necessary and I cast it with determination and a certain bitter enthusiasm, but it is not even an incremental step towards the repudiation of the conservative worldview.

    The Democratic Party ought, in 2000 if not in 1980, to have diverted evey atom of its resources towards the full-throated, unsparing, unwavering, unresting, forthright, confident, explicit, consistent, ethical, and moral denunciation of the Republican Party, its pseudo-philosophy, and its constituencies; but this did not happen and now it cannot happen. All that is left is the [necessary!] protest vote.

  • Peter C on October 18, 2012 11:07 AM:

    I think the Republicans enforce party discipline too strongly (and thus expell very dependable votes like Lugar and Castle) but that Democrats don't enforce party discipline enough, especially in the Senate.

    Here's where I'd draw the line. Senators may vote the way they please ABOUT legislation, BUT, they need to support the party in votes about PROCEDURE.

    We can't afford to have Senators joining Republican filibusters; that MUST be beyond the pale. If the leaders we are stuck with (because of seniority) cannot or will not enforce this minimal party discipline, it is time to dispense with seniority as our method of picking leaders.

  • Mimikatz on October 18, 2012 12:41 PM:

    The specter of Romney and a GOP Senate is truly frightening. Talk about the end of liberty as we on the Left understand it. That's why I've given to Dem candidates starting with Elizabeth Warren last year to Mazie Hirono in HI, Heidi Heitkamp in ND, Tammy Baldwin in WI, Shelley Berkley in NV, Claire MCCaskill in MO and Jon Tester in MT, Martin Heinrich in NM, and Joe Donnelly in IN, Chris Murphy in CT and Richard Carmona in AZ. If all but one or two win, we are in good shape. Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Olympia Snowe will be gone, Susan Collins will be all by her lonesome without Snowe and Scott Brown, and we will have many more women. If the gods and we care enough, that's what we will get, and Obama with them.

  • Mitt's Magic Underpants on October 18, 2012 1:40 PM:

    Dems stand firm? LOL!

    Want the most bang for you buck? Give to Carmona!

  • castanea on October 18, 2012 3:13 PM:

    "[A]re they going to clean up their crazy wacky party?"


    As long as they can count on nearly 50 percent of the vote in any given election, there is no incentive for the GOP to move to the center.

    Why should they? As long as nearly half the electorate is crazy/stupid/deluded enough to vote for it, the GOP will stay the course.

    Until it gets crushed as Goldwater did in 1964, and until there are fewer than 40 GOP senators and fewer than, say, 180 GOP members of the House, the party will continue to sew the seeds of chaos and pain, because it can only thrive under those circumstances.

    The GOP drove us into a huge crises with tax cuts for the rich that drove up the national debt and with the war in Iraq. Given the results at the ballot box, those are things that a near-majority of the American public wants.

    Don't expect a lunatic to awaken in the morning as a sane human being.

  • KarkAwark on November 09, 2012 4:05 PM: