Why Republicans Lose


Republicans are trapped in a Prisoner's Dilemma of their own making
Republicans are trapped in a Prisoner’s Dilemma of their own making


My early prediction – barring some amazing or cataclysmic event or development, Republicans will comfortably lose the 2016 presidential election and a number of congressional seats (compared to the total that they hold after the 2014 midterms).

I am confident about this because of two intractable characteristics of the current Republican party, and their congressional delegation.

The first is revealed by the Huffington Post, and was picked up on by yours truly, in the context of the House GOP’s current stance on immigration reform:

These Republicans don’t deny that weak support from Hispanic voters is hurting GOP presidential nominees. And they concede the problem may worsen if Latinos think Republicans are blocking “immigration reform.”

These House members, however, worry much more about their own constituents’ opposition to the proposed changes. And they fear a challenge in the next Republican primary if they ignore those concerns.

“It’s hard to argue with the polling they’ve been getting from the national level,” said Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, referring to signs of serious problems for Republican presidential candidates if immigration laws aren’t rewritten. “I just don’t experience it locally.”

And the second characteristic is sketched out by Politico here:

For years, GOP senators have been stingy with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, refusing to make large transfers of money out of their personal campaign accounts that could help their party compete in neck-and-neck races across the country. For 2012, Democratic senators transferred nearly five times more to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee than Republicans gave to the NRSC.

And just like last year, an initial look at the Senate map shows a path to the majority. It won’t be easy: Republicans will have to knock off well-financed Democratic incumbents, defend Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and limit the internecine primary warfare that has twice cost them a chance at the majority.

Top GOP senators say that’s exactly the point: Not maximizing the NRSC’s operations could be another unforced error. In short, without more money, you’ll still be in the minority.

So there you have it. Republican senators sitting on huge campaign war chests and facing the feeblest of Democratic opposition, are much less willing to give some of their surplus funds to colleagues and candidates desperately in need than their Democratic counterparts are on behalf of their own colleagues. Because current Republican orthodoxy tells them that Redistribution Is Always Bad, even if it takes place through the NRSC to further their supposed political objectives at a national level.

And Republican house members in heavily gerrymandered districts would rather stay in power and thwart a potential chance to get their party’s hands back on the executive branch of government because, though they all scream that more years of Obama or Democratic rule will spell the end for America, they are more worried still about the danger of a primary challenge from the right if they vote for comprehensive immigration reform.

The problem facing the GOP is so beautifully summed up by Alabama (…) Senator Richard Shelby:

But asked why he hasn’t transferred big bucks out of his massive war chest, Shelby said his donors wouldn’t be happy.

“I raise money out of my campaign for myself — not for you or anyone else,” Shelby said. “I tell my givers who it’s for. If they knew I was going to raise it to give it away, they probably wouldn’t give it away.”

My money. Mine.

Just go ahead and add another four years in the political wilderness to the GOP tab.