Over on the home page, I have a chat with Brian Walsh, the political director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
A lot of grassroots folks have a lot of gripes with the national party committees, but I think the NRCC has performed pretty solidly this cycle. They have, for the large part, not intervened in primaries. In an earlier interview, Walsh told me that every seat is winnable and there’s a winnable race for every candidate; he aims to match up the right candidate with the right race. Ohio businessman Tom Ganley was set to make an expensive and perhaps divisive primary bid against Rob Portman in that state’s GOP Senate primary this cycle; he was ultimately convinced that he would make a strong candidate against Betty Sutton in the state’s 13th congressional district.
By and large, this is a great class of GOP challengers; having said that, a lot of Republican candidates are going to win on Election Night because of what their Democratic opponents did, not because they ran great campaigns. Then again, there’s a strong argument that this is how Democrats built their majorities in 2006 and 2008.
I’m sure a lot of folks will argue that the national committee has botched it royally by not supporting their preferred candidate enough; the NRCC is facing a situation where they have many, many competitive races — 80 to 90, perhaps 100 — and only a certain amount of cash to go around. I asked Walsh if he would rather have 40 races where he felt really confident about the GOP’s chances than 80 races where he felt pretty good but closer to 50/50, and he said yes.
Some might find that philosophy a bit cautious in a good environment, but others might see it as a good example of prioritization. If Republicans don’t win back the House in this anti-Democrat, anti-Washington atmosphere, their efforts will be called a failure, and probably deservedly so. If they win the House by two seats, some of us might be disappointed, but it would still mean the end of Speaker Pelosi. If they win control of the House by 20 seats, then that extra bit of NRCC help in those longer-shot races might have been superfluous.