Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stuart Rothenberg asks...

..."Ted Cruz for President?" and answers, "Not So Fast."

I agree with Rothenberg's piece in Roll Call on one point: the junior senator from Texas will never be president. He's just too far right. But I disagree on another: Cruz has an excellent chance at winning the GOP nomination in 2016. And I think Rothenberg makes the case himself at the end of the article (my emphasis):

The question now is whether the Republican Party can take its generally conservative message and make it more broadly appealing, including to younger people, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, or whether the party needs to experience a true political blood bath before even the most conservative elements agree that a new message and new style are called for.

Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party was the governing party going into the 1993 elections, holding 156 seats in Parliament. The party suffered a humiliating defeat in that election, winning just two seats. It took a revamped Conservative Party 13 years to form another government, but the 1993 blood-letting left no doubt that the party had to change.

As the Republican National Committee’s March 2013 report on the state of the party demonstrated, most veteran national GOP strategists seem to understand where the party is headed and how it needs to change.

But it’s far from clear that the primary voters and grass-roots activists understand that, and successful 2014 midterm elections — which are certainly possible given the differences in presidential and off-year turnout and given the Obama administration’s current problems — could help too many Republicans forget the important lessons of 2012.

The 2016 GOP nominating process will tell us a lot about whether Republicans really understand what is happening or the party needs to experience an electoral blood bath to get the message.

And I think that's it in a nutshell: the Republican Party base has no idea how far out of the mainstream it's become. (The Washington establishment, however, does get it.) But it may take a thorough shellacking, a la Goldwater in 1964 or McGovern in 1972 (or, more recently, Dukakis in 1988, above) to bring the GOP back to its senses.

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