Looking Back, Looking Ahead

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Already a lot of the Senate recriminations are focusing on tea-party/social-conservative extremism as the reason for Republican defeats. There’s no question that Indiana and Missouri were lost because of foolish moves by social conservatives (although it’s not right to say Akin was the tea-party candidate in his primary; there were tea partiers behind each of the three candidates there).

But this isn’t like 2010, where Republicans won winnable races everywhere but in Delaware, Colorado, Alaska (where a Republican nonetheless won), and Nevada. In that case it was easy to attribute Republicans’ shortfalls to conservatives’ having picked the wrong candidate. This year’s Senate races were more like 2000, 2006, and 2008, where Republicans lost almost every race in contention, no matter what kind of candidate they ran. Which suggests that an “establishment” vs. “tea party” fight is exactly what the Republicans don’t need right now.

Some more morning-after thoughts — well, actually night-of thoughts – here.