There is a general consensus among members of the chattering class that Republicans are going to retake the House and possibly the Senate in the upcoming congressional elections. But is there a chance that we could all be in for a huge shock in November? Some on the right have cautioned that even though the GOP’s prospects for winning big in the elections are beyond favorable, there is the chance that Republicans could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Republican senators are reportedly warning that the party could still grab a loaded pistol, point it directly at its foot, and pull the trigger by selecting the wrong nominees to face Democrats in the primary races. The Hill reported:
The concern is both an echo from previous cycles, where Republicans feel they got burned at the ballot box because less-electable candidates won a primary, and a recognition that with a 50-50 Senate, any one race could make-or-break who wins the majority.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told The Hill he believes the GOP has a 50-50 chance of winning back the Senate. His hesitancy to go further is because he does not yet know which candidates Republican voters will choose to face a Democratic opponent.
“It would be a lot higher than 50-50 if the primaries were over and we knew who our nominees were. …[There] are some very contentious, competitive primaries and in states, swing states, in a general election where you’ve got to have good candidates,” the lawmaker said.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) indicated that he is optimistic about the chances for victory, “if we don’t screw up the primaries.”
He continued: “We’ve been there before. …We’ve shown our ability to do that and that’s why it’s important as always to nominate people who can win general elections, and it remains to be seen.”
Former President Donald Trump is looming large over the races, having made a series of endorsements. Many have surmised that the primary elections will be a test of the president’s influence among conservative voters. He is still popular with the base and many GOP candidates have sought his seal of approval. But some have questioned the former president’s choices.
Ohio’s primary elections, which will happen on Tuesday, have been one of the most closely watched. Venture capitalist JD Vance was catapulted into the lead after the former president gave him the nod. The decision later caused some controversy when it was revealed that Vance had made critical remarks about Trump during the 2016 campaign.
Trump also endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, who is running for Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat. Oz has come under fire for his prior positions on health care, especially for supporting insurance mandates.
But overall, Republicans remain confident. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at a chamber event indicated this political environment was “better than it was in 1994” for the GOP.
“From an atmospheric point of view, it’s a perfect storm of problems for the Democrats,” he said. “How could you screw this up? It’s actually possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.”
The lawmaker added:
“In the Senate, if you look at where we have to compete in order to get into a majority, there are places that are competitive in the general election. So you can’t nominate somebody who’s just sort of unacceptable to a broader group of people and win. We had that experience in 2010 and 2012.”
So the question remains: Will Republicans screw up their chances for victory in November? The answer to that question comes down to one factor: Republican voters.
As I’ve written previously, this election’s primary season will be more important than the elections themselves. If we, as conservative voters, fail to choose candidates who can defeat their Democratic opponents, we could easily sink our chances of taking back the upper chamber. Some candidates might seem viable because they appeal to the base. They know all the right things to say. They have a level of celebrity. But this does not necessarily mean they can win.
When it is time to cast your vote for your preferred nominee, it would be wise to consider electability as one of the top – if not the number one – requirement. Yes, it is easy to simply go with the candidate you like. But if they can’t win the seat, then we are essentially giving the win to the Democrats on a silver platter.