Republican Problems Just Beginning This Year

National Journal shows that losing this fall can be just the beginning of the Republican Party’s downward spiral. From Hotline on Call:

Charles Mahtesian, the editor of the Almanac of American Politics, writes in the latest edition of National Journal that “losing the House might be just the beginning of the House Republicans’ troubles: The post-1994 political era has demonstrated that a congressional caucus newly relegated to minority status continues hemorrhaging long after Election Day.That was the bitter, unexpected lesson that Democrats learned in the aftermath of the 1994 upheaval. Within a year, the scent of majority power had enticed five House Democrats and two Senate Democrats to switch their allegiance to the Republican Party. And that wasn’t the end of the Democratic Party’s bleeding. As the durability of the House GOP’s majority became clear, three more Democrats found their way to the Republican Conference between 2000 and 2004, each defection making the party’s climb back to power that much steeper.Despite vigorous claims to the contrary, nearly every case of party-switching involved a calculus that apparently had as much to do with ambition and self-preservation as ideology.”

He continues: “It will be difficult for Republicans to imagine that they have other potential traitors in their midst. That’s because congressional party-switching has been an almost exclusively Democratic malady for more than a quarter-century. When the occasional Republican like Jeffords or then-Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire did leave the family, the defector became an independent, never going so far as to formally join the Democratic ranks. (Smith, in fact, returned to the GOP fold in November 1999, less than a year after leaving it for a short-lived presidential bid.)”

“However, if the Democrats retake the House this November 7, the self-serving calculus used by a generation of Southern politicians in defecting from the Democratic Party may well begin to make sense for nail-biting, blue-state Republicans across the Northeast and in parts of the Midwest as they begin to ponder a future without chairmanships, a future weighed down by the drag of a socially conservative, Southern- and Western-based national party.”

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