Republican prospects are not good if the grassroots and the Establishment can’t get together, but what motivates the Establishment?
Robert Smith wrote about Republican prospects in the American Thinker blog: “The Bare Naked Truth about the GOP and 2016.”
Here’s the dilemma – and it’s a big one. Electing a Democrat president in 2016 would be bad for the nation, very bad. Conservatives agree. Establishment Republicans do too, in important regards, at least. To avert further troubles domestically and dangers overseas, the Mayflower truck that unloads stuff at the White House in January 2017 needs to be for a Republican.
But to get a Republican in the White House, the GOP needs to nominate a candidate favored by the grassroots. Too narrow? Well, trends in survey research show that anti-establishment sentiment is intense among GOP grassroots voters – and not going away. Very simply – and this is the hard reality – the grassroots – or a big portion – aren’t going to turn out to vote for an establishment Republican (short of an existing or looming crisis).
We have pointed out how the anti-establishment feeling reflected in the popularity of non-political candidates. Smith is right to insist that this is a long-term challenge for the Republican Party. He is also right that the Establishment cannot expect aversion to a Democrat President to be enough to motivate them to vote for the Establishment candidate.
If an establishment Republican wins the party’s presidential nomination, the likeliest scenario is a depressed turnout among grassroots voters, perhaps more significantly than 2012. That could negatively impact down-ballot races (that’s congressional, state, and local).
Like the establishment’s refrain about Obama in 2012, the argument now is that the grassroots will rally to oppose Hillary, Biden, or Sanders (however improbable Bernie is). If that reasoning were true, then Romney should be seeking his second term.
But while Smith is right in what he says about an Establishment candidate and grassroot motives, I don’t think he is acknowledging how the Republican Establishment feels about a Clinton presidency. He claims that Establishment Republicans “in important regards” understand that a Democrat Presidency would be “bad for the nation, very bad.”
But we see signs that Establishment Republicans are prepared to go “third party” in a way that would virtually guarantee a win for the Democrats. Furthermore, it seems that the donor class tends to hedge their bets and write checks for both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. So it doesn’t seem like the Establishment Republicans really think that a Democrat President would be so bad.