Are we finally seeing the culmination of the civil war occurring in the Republican Party? If current developments are any indication, we might just be seeing the beginning of the repudiation of the establishment wing of the GOP.
The movement against the old guard began even before former President Donald Trump came onto the political scene. But when he won the party’s nomination, and later the presidency, the non-establishment faction of the conservative movement became energized.
Since then, the right has seen a bitter feud play out between the establishment and the more populist elements of the movement. Even then, it seemed clear the days of Romney, Bush, McCain, and others were nearing their end.
Nevertheless, the old guard continued to fight for relevance. Some even decided to actively work against the GOP after Trump became its leader. The Lincoln Project gives a prime example of the washed-up neocons that were put out of business by the Orange Man What Is Bad™.
Other members of the establishment wised up and realized that working with Trump is far easier than trying to maintain relevance while using their platforms to take potshots at him. Indeed, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) learned the hard way that Trump Derangement Syndrome isn’t exactly lucrative on the right.
At the end of the day, it is the voters who will decide whether the old guard remains firmly in place or if it is overthrown and replaced. New Hampshire’s primaries – and the overall primary season — have shown that conservative voters are ready to enact some change.
What is notable about these particular races is that Trump did not get involved as he had in other primary elections. The Washington Examiner reported:
This time, it was the Democratic Party that meddled and, by design, propelled a slate of Republicans to the nomination for Senate and in two congressional districts who top Republicans in Concord and Washington believe jeopardize their party’s prospects in otherwise very winnable midterm elections in New Hampshire. All told, Democratic groups spent millions of dollars on the effort, successfully countering a spending binge on behalf of the losers by organizations linked to GOP leaders.
However, some on the right do not believe Senate nominee Don Bolduc and House nominees Karoline Leavitt and Robert Burns can defeat their Democratic incumbent opponents in the general election.
A GOP operative told the Washington Examiner that the odds of these individuals winning these seats is “competitive at the best and wipeout at the worst,” with all three losing as being “more probable.”
“This concern is shared by, among others, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA),” according to The Examiner.
Indeed, McConnell spent a whopping $5 million in television ads criticizing Bolduc. Nevertheless, Bolduc beat his opponent by nearly two percentage points.
“You sent the biggest signal to the establishment tonight,” Bolduc said during his victory party.
This might sound a bit counterintuitive, but whether these candidates can defeat their Democrat opponents is not relevant to this particular conversation. The fact of the matter is that Republican voters chose them despite any electability issues, which signals that the base is willing to let Democrats have these seats rather than electing more establishment folks.
Think about that. To them, having an establishment Republican in office is not too different than putting a Democrat in those seats. This is how poorly the old guard has represented its constituents.
In these midterm elections, we can expect to see even more populist/non-establishment lawmakers sent to Washington, D.C. But this alone will not break the establishment’s grip on the party. There are still many who are not up for re-election until later. This means Republican voters will have to be just as involved in future elections as they were in this one if they want a more complete takeover of the party. The question is: Can America First maintain this momentum long enough to rid the GOP of the old guard?