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Opinion | Better candidates, better results for the GOP senate prospects

Andrew's Assessments

By Andrew Geisler
On March 18, 2014

The story of the last two election cycles for Republicans is a few crazy candidates ruining it for everyone. Taking back the Senate was in their grasp during the 2010 House wave, and the field looked advantageous in 2012 as well until the national narrative turned into an "all Republicans are crazy" frame.

This time, all Republicans need is to pick up six seats. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball site sees 16 of the 36 elections this cycle as potentially competitive - 14 of them are held by Democrats, only two by Republicans.

The key change this cycle is candidate recruitment, which will require a spreading of national campaign donations. Many media-types would like for us all to believe the issue is with conservative political thought, and these candidates adherence to it. That's wrong.

The issue isn't an over-adherence to orthodoxy. Whether the media likes it or not, conservative-minded people are drawn naturally to orthodoxy, just not east-coast elite thinking that liberals are shocked and saddened to hear any dissension from. The issue is these candidates are not professionals. Politics takes time to master and you need candidates who have some idea of what it entails. In any field, you hire the person who knows what they're doing.

People like Sharron Angle facing off against a weakened Majority Leader Harry Reid weaken everyone in statewide, nationalized elections because they don't actually understand the way the game works or how to communicate with voters.

That's why having candidates like Ed Gillespie, a former RNC Chairman and top Bush aide running against Senator Mark Warner in Virginia, or Scott Brown's probable entrance into the New Hampshire race will force Democrats to spend limited midterm year resources in places they didn't expect to have to play strong defense in financially.

It doesn't even matter if Gillespie or Brown win-what matters is that they're professionals, which makes them viable, and that viability will cause national Democrats to abandon candidates like Senator Mark Pryor in Arkansas or Senator Mark Begich in Alaska much earlier.

The all-important money pendulum is swinging distinctly in the Republican election. Low-profile midterm elections draw an electorate favorable to Republicans in the first place. The Affordable Care Act is still the most potent issue for voters, and they're not happy with it.

As long as another Sharon Angle, Todd Akin, or Christine O'Donnell doesn't emerge and ruin everything for the GOP, it's hard to see how the money, the electorate and the issues don't point to a flip in Senate control.

This could not be more important. The Senate confirms presidential appointments-in the administrative state, this is an important check on the power of the president.

It would also mean full Congressional control for Republicans during the last two years of the Obama administration.

If his domestic agenda isn't dead already, this election cycle could be the deathblow.

Not having another Akin type emerge is a big "if." Republicans have shown an uncanny ability to screw themselves up the last two cycles. This cycle's conditions might be so ripe that even they can't mess it up this time.


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