Rough Sledding Ahead for Republicans.

Oct 28

Nearly a year after President Barack Obama’s re-election and two weeks after an attempt to defund or delay Obamacare with a government shutdown and holding the debt ceiling hostage ended in failure, the Republican Party finds itself mired in a civil war between its established leadership and its Tea Party faction.

If this internal battle continues over the next couple of years, it could cost the Republicans not only their Congressional majority, but also any chance of gaining control of the Senate in next year’s mid-term elections, as well as any realistic shot of winning the White House in 2016.

Some political pundits and bloggers believe the Republicans can at least retain control of the House thanks to district gerrymandering, but with the party now sinking fast in the polls – Gallup has them at the lowest approval rating (28 percent) of either party since they began tracking party popularity over two decades ago – even that’s no longer a certainty.

The willingness of the Tea Party faction (the majority of whom sit in the House)to shut down the government and push the country to the brink of debt default  has turned off many Americans, especially Republican voters.

Divisions within the GOP ranks could cost them in the midterm elections.

Divisions within the GOP ranks could cost them in the midterm elections.

Yet the Tea Party wing incredibly are still trying to call the shots within the party.  Its leaders (Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, along with Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, Congressmen Tom Cotton, Marlin Stutzman and Matt Bevin, and former VP candidate Sarah Palin) intend to use their influence to not only keep up the fight against Obamacare but also threaten established Republican leaders facing re-election next fall (including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) by fielding their own candidates.

Within their own bubble, the Tea Party seems oblivious to the damage they’re causing to their own brand as well as the Republican Party as a whole. They only appear interested in a power play to force the GOP to shift further to the right.

They were so sure Mitt Romney would defeat Obama in last fall’s presidential campaign they refused to believe polls indicating the President would easily win re-election, claiming those polls were skewed in Obama’s favor. They were gobsmacked when those polls proved accurate, but rather than learn from them, the Tea Partiers merely doubled-down on their beliefs, killing attempts by the established party leadership to improve their brand following the election.

That led to their over-reaching with their failed attempt to force President Obama to defund or delay his signature achievement, but once again, they’re not learning from the experience, stubbornly insisting they’ll continue to push for defunding Obamacare in the next round of spending bills.

If the Tea Partiers once again force another government shutdown or threaten the economy again over the debt ceiling next year, it’ll continue to drive down the Republicans overall popularity at the worst possible time: heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

President Obama seems to sense an opportunity to exploit this to advance his party’s cause by pushing once again for immigration reform, which is a significant wedge issue for the Republicans, especially the Tea Partiers.

Latinos represent the largest-growing block of voters in the United States and were crucial to Obama’s two election victories. They’re also growing more disillusioned by the Republicans.  If the President and his party can push immigration reform to the fore leading up to the midterms, it could drive more Latinos and other minorities to the polls in large numbers, tipping the scales in the Democrats favor.

If that happens, gerrymandering won’t be an issue, as the Dems could regain control of the House and potentially increase their majority in the Senate.

The Republicans will of course attempt to blunt that by using scare tactics to drive their supporters to the polls, claiming Obama will get everything he wants if the Dems regain control of the House and perhaps a super majority in the Senate.

The Latino vote wasn’t an issue in the past for the Republicans, as they could usually rely on the white vote (especially middle-class males) to put them over the top. Unfortunately, those traditional Republican supporters are a growing minority, yet the Tea Partiers remain willfully blind to the changing demographics.

Of course there’s still a year until the midterms and much can happen during that period, but if the Republicans go into this contest assuming they can ignore tanking poll numbers by putting their faith in gerrymandered districts and the rantings of the Tea Party, they’ll face a huge shock come November 2014, which could have serious consequences for their 2016 Presidential hopes.

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