making some sense of the elections

Slade Gorton, a moderate Republican in the Washington legislature , noticed a trend in the state’s party elections after 1976 that would hold important implications for the future.  In 1964, moderates had lost to  Goldwater supporters in the intra-party contests of that critical year, and the local and state organizations remained in the hands of conservatives even after Goldwater’s electoral wipeout.  But across the 1960s and 1970s, “the Goldwater people who were in the party organization became more pragmatic” as a consequence of governing and attempting to appeal to a broader constituency.  This lead conservative supporters of Reagan, who were energized by his presidential bids, to run against the Goldwaterites and turn them out of office.  The newly elected Reaganites in their turn were to become more pragmatic by the very act of attempting to govern and win reelection, until a dozen or so years later they would be deposed by people to their right in the 1994 elections, and the same cycle would repeat itself with the Tea Party Movement.  “The people who are in party organizations and want to win elections have to make certain compromises in order to win” Gorton condluded, and “then they get thrown out by true believers”.
This logic implied the Republican Party’s ability to govern would always be undercut by the demands of its most fervent supporters.  The same dynamic also implied that in some ways, each successive wave of grassroots activism would move the definition of movement conservatism further to the right, like a ratchet.

from “Rule and Ruin” page 350-351, Geoffrey Kabaservice …


Outgoing Republicans
Olympia Snowe — Maine
Scott Brown — Massachusetts
Richard Lugar — Indiana
Kay Bailey Hutchinson — Texas
Jon Kyl — Arizona

Incoming Republicans
Deb Fischer — Nebraska
Ted Cruz — Texas
Jeff Flake — Arizona

What we have here are four of the more moderate or less conservative Republicans along with one figure who can be said to be on the conservative side of the party departing and being replaced by three “Tea Party” conservatives.

The Democratic picture …

Ben Nelson Nebraska  —- Joe Donnally Indiana
Kurt Conrad North Dakota —- Heid Heitkamp North Dakota
Joseph Lieberman Conncecticut — Angus King Maine

These three are pretty well analogous switches.  The next four are a step to the left by, for the most party, simple vitality of getting younger in the case of Hawaii, or moving from a culturally conservative Reaganite figure to a more liberal in Vivginia’s case, or low profile figure to higher profile figure liberal in Wisconsin and New Mexico’s case.

Jim Webb — Tim Kaine; Virginia
Herb Kohl — Tammy Baldwin; Wisconsin
Jeff Bingaman —  Martin Heinrich; New Mexico
Daniel Akaka — Mazie Hirino; Hawaii

Add to this the two Senators, both on the liberal side of the Democratic Party’s spectrum.

Chris Murphy — Connecticut
Elizabeth Warren — Massachusetts

On the House side, the Republicans maintained their majority for the 2012 election by some 2010 state election contests — namely Secretary of States governors in Ohio, Florida, and Texas.  It was why these contests were more important for partisan purposes than the Congressional landslide.  This is mainly in reference to redistricting.  I suppose it’s part of the continual process.


Leave a Reply