I expect the Republicans to win the Senate and make gains in the House of Representatives. But it is notable that the Republicans are struggling in a year that should be to their advantage. The latest NBC News poll has terrible news for the GOP in Kansas and bad news in North Carolina. Likewise, if the poll is to be believed, Iowa is closer than the GOP should want.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are going to pick up several seats including with some candidates who conservatives really are not fans of. But, and this is the interesting distinction, the NRCC and conservatives did not engage in open warfare in those seats.
It is a distinction the national press corps would be wise to notice. Conservative fought establishment types in a number of House races, but the NRCC never openly engaged in those races and, in several, kept open lines of communication. Contrast that behavior with the Senate. There, the NRSC openly assailed outside conservative groups, attacked candidates, and most importantly attacked the Republican base.
Now the GOP is struggling, mostly in Senate races. They are struggling not just in polling, but in fundraising too. It is not a coincidence. It is the logical consequence of treating your base like garbage. The best Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chairman of the NRSC, can come up with is that donors are burned out from the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012.
On top of that, the Republican establishment has given little incentive for the base to get on board. Reince Priebus tried to do that with an address last week. Unfortunately, the suspicion at the national level is so strong, there is not a lot of trust even for him. The national Republican groups seem intent on ignoring Obamacare as a winning campaign issue, relying instead on outside groups to make the case. They seem intent on amnesty. In fact, though Chairman Priebus never went there, many people interpreted his speech as being weak on immigration solely because of the antics of Republicans in Congress.
I have seen first hand that the NRSC’s actions have spilled over into the NRCC, RNC, RGA, and RSLC. The grassroots have grown deeply hostile and suspicious of all the groups based on the antics of the NRSC. So often the consultants and interests overlap, it is not hard to understand the conservative reaction to all the institutional groups. But it largely remains the fault of the NRSC.
I expect the GOP will ultimately win the Senate. But it is going to be far harder than it ever had to be. When you call your base “bigots” and “racists” and then beg them for money and votes, you should not be surprised when they are not sure if they should come back.