Without any galvanized or united tea party/conservative opposition pitted against a 12 year, popular incumbent, 40% of Texas Republicans still voted against John Cornyn. Put it to you this way — RedState did not oppose John Cornyn and one of our own front page contributors did work for him on this campaign. And without anyone really campaigning against him, 40% of Texas Republicans still wanted somebody else.
That was Tuesday.
Get to CPAC on Thursday and Ted Cruz electrified the crowd. Contrast Cruz with McConnell on stage. McConnell got the crowd excited about his gun, but otherwise got a very subdued reception.
I didn’t see their speeches, but I hear Marco and Mike Lee did fine. It’s the old guys who aren’t even able to get the old guys out of their chairs any more. Even the old conservatives are ready to move on from the old faces, but the old faces are bitterly clinging to the levers of power.
It is pronounced in the hallways when the crowd stops to chat. It is pronounced in the applause lines. It is in the quiet hum of the older, longer time attendees and the buzz of the young.
They have grown tired of the old guard. Theirs is a palpable angst about the future of the GOP without a house cleaning. If it does not happen in the primaries, these people will no doubt turn out in 2014 anyway. But what about the next two years of infighting leading into 2016? If the conservatives cannot clean up their house in 2014, by 2016 they may not even bother engaging.
Twenty years of “Stop Hillary” runs on inertia, not passion. It’ll take something, but there may be nothing if the GOP does not start listening to its grassroots.