For most of the summer, the conventional wisdom had been that the Republicans would take over the U.S. Senate.
Not so fast.
A series of recent polls have shown something just the opposite. A number of polling organizations are giving the Democrats a slight edge in their chances to keep control of the Senate.
Polls are notoriously fickle but generally become much more accurate the closer it gets to an election. If the GOP fails to take the Senate, who do they blame?
This year, they can’t blame the tea party.
There are no tea party candidates running for the Senate in seriously contested elections. The Republican Establishment went out of its way to crush tea party candidates this year. Granted, some of these candidate should have been voted off the island early. In Kentucky and in North Carolina, there were two terribly flawed candidates running. While the media and the Establishment branded these guys as tea party candidates, neither had anything approaching unanimous support from the tea party.
In Mississippi, the Establishment went full liberal in trying to crush one of the most serious threats from the conservative movement. Thad Cochran’s campaign, led by former Republican National Committee Chair Haley Barbour, got Democrats to cross over in the runoff. They ran ads on black radio stations comparing the tea party to the Klan and telling black voters that Chris McDaniel would take their rights away if elected.
Conservatives in Mississippi and other places are furious about that. Now that November is approaching, the Establishment expects conservatives to forgive, forget and pull the lever.
Don’t expect that to happen.
In Tennessee, liberal Sen. Lamar Alexander held on in a primary in August. While he did not resort to the same dirty tricks the Cochran campaign did, he still appealed for Democrats to help elect the Republican nominee. He refused to take challenger Joe Carr’s concession call, though he promptly called leaders of a group called “Democrats for Alexander.”
Mr. Alexander blamed that oversight on his “staff.” If anyone believes that, Liberal Lamar has some ocean front property in the Smokey Mountains to sell.
To add insult to injury in Tennessee, according to the well-respected Rocky Top Politics blog, moderate Republican Gov. Bill Haslam orchestrated the defeat of two conservative Republican legislators. Now, according to Rocky Top Politics, Mr. Haslam is working again with an out of state group to try and defeat some Republican legislators in the general election.
Because they refuse to go along with his plan to expand Medicare and implement Common Core in Tennessee.
Members of the Republican Establishment like to blame its losses on the tea party. They like to cite people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Mr. Akin was never a Tea Party candidate. The tea party supported someone else in his race. Mr. Mourdock was a great candidate who blew it on a gotcha question from a liberal journalist.
Of course, the Republican Establishment has trouble explaining candidates like John McCain and Mitt Romney.
The Republican Establishment got what it wanted this year. It crushed the conservative/tea party wing. Now they are shocked that conservatives are not motivated to turn out this year. They are shocked that in conservative circles, “Remember Mississippi!” is now a battle cry.
This is a year when the Republicans should take the Senate with room to spare.
If it doesn’t happen this year, who will the Establishment blame?