According to all the polling averages that political junkies have been obsessively checking for months, next Tuesday should be a breeze for the GOP.
Seven, eight, nine, ten Senate seats are swinging their way, which would give Republicans control of the upper chamber for the first time since 2006.
But what if, somehow, the polls are wrong? Six Senate seats is a lot, after all. And with seven days to go until the election, any number of factors could go against the GOP, allowing the Democrats to retain control, if by the slimmest of margins. What happens then?
When asked about that scenario, one top GOP fundraiser, who has raised money for Mitt Romney and a host of Republican congressional candidates over the last several election cycles simply paused for several seconds, as if time was needed to merely wrap one’s head around such a dire outcome.
“It would be an unbelievable disaster. The party would be devastated. The fundraising would dry-up. It would just become suddenly non-existent.”
Making matters worse, Republicans say, is not just that enthusiasm for the party heading into 2016 would be diminished, but that the divisions within the GOP, which have simmered on a low boil for four years now (flaring up during the government shutdown and debt-ceiling face off) would at last break out into all-out civil war.
In 2010 and 2012, Republicans also seemed poised to pick up a handful of seats. But with the Tea Party at full power, a number of fringe candidates won GOP primaries, depriving the party of easy opportunities to knock off Democrats. In 2014, party elders decided that the nation had seen enough of the Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnells and Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akins, and tried to keep the firebrands at bay.
They were largely successful, with every Republican incumbent or establishment candidate winning his or her primary. Even the Senate’s incumbent Tea Partiers, like Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah played good soldier, stumping for their embattled establishment colleagues or at least keeping mostly muzzled as their one-time allies among the conservative grassroots fought the establishment.
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