Fascinating: A quote attributed to David Axelrod appears in the print version of a Dan Balz story in the Washington Post but doesn’t appear in the online version.
“There’s no doubt we have more exposure because we have more incumbents,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said. “I don’t minimize that, and obviously we have a challenge there. But there’s no affirmation out there for the Washington Republican establishment.”
I wonder if the quote got cut because it’s . . . well, kind of stupid.
Sure, I wouldn’t characterize the mood of the country as Boehner-mania, but the point is moot because there isn’t much of a Washington Republican establishment left. There are 41 GOP senators and 178 members of the House of Representatives. Of the senators, only 11 are running for reelection this year. Of those, the only ones who could be argued to be remotely in trouble are John McCain of Arizona (and that’s mostly within the GOP primary), David Vitter of Louisiana (and he leads handily), and Richard Burr of North Carolina (and he, too, leads healthily). In the House, you can count the number of vulnerable GOP incumbents on one hand: Joseph Cao of Louisiana, new guy Charles Djou in Hawaii . . . maybe Charlie Dent in Pennsylvania or Dan Lundgren in California? At that point, you’re in the “Leans Republican” category.
Maybe you can argue that Senate candidates Mike Castle in Delaware and Mark Kirk of Illinois represent part of the “Washington Republican establishment,” but both are doing at least fairly well in recent polling; Castle leads handily, Kirk leads by a little, both in very Democratic states. (Axelrod could argue that Democrats might pick up their House seats, but that doesn’t really reflect upon the “Washington Republican establishment,” that reflects mostly upon the candidate who aim to win their seats, Bob Dold and one of four possible Delaware Republicans.)
Democrats will probably try to argue that some Republicans who haven’t been in Washington in a while — Dan Coats in Indiana, or Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania — are “Washington insiders” or part of the “Washington establishment.” Except that they’re running against current members of Congress.
Axelrod is correct that so far, the country hasn’t embraced the GOP and all it stands for — although the generic ballot polling looks awfully close these days. Either way, the concept of a “Washington Republican establishment” will be moot in most races. The “Washington Democratic establishment,” however, will be a key point in hundreds of races from coast to coast.