Two Republican Parties?

Some GOP governors are taking a stance against Trump.

Reading way too much into too little data, NYT editor Blake Hounshell makes the declaration:

There are two Republican parties.

That’s a vast oversimplification, of course. Republican pollsters have been known to sort G.O.P. voters into seven categories or more, ranging from committed Christians to pro-business types to squishy never-Trumpers.

But when it comes to choosing sides in primaries, a split is widening. There’s the national party, led by Donald Trump in Florida and Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, with Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, toggling between foe and ally as the occasion warrants.

And then there’s the G.O.P. that is rooted in state power, run by a core group of pragmatic, often less hard-line governors who represent states as different as libertarian-leaning Arizona and deep-blue Massachusetts.

This was, until fairly recently, conventional wisdom. Massachusetts Republicans were more liberal than Alabama Democrats. But, for quite some time now, it has certainly seemed that politics has been nationalized. The parties are deeply sorted, such that the Democratic nominee for governor of Texas is running on banning assault rifles.

Still, Hounsell is a shrewd analyst. While he made his bones in the foreign policy space, he’s increasingly focused on US politics. What’s his evidence for this bifurcation?

This week, the Republican Governors Association happened to be gathering in Nashville for its annual meeting. The guest of honor: Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, fresh off his 50-percentage-point drubbing of David Perdue, a former senator and businessman who had been dragooned into a primary by Trump. Kemp spoke at a dinner in Nashville on Wednesday night, thanking his donors and fellow governors for their support.

It was a celebratory moment for a tight-knit, fraternal group that was often in close contact during the crises of the coronavirus pandemic and the chaotic end of Trump’s presidency. Trump has leaned particularly hard on two of the most influential governors of the bunch, Kemp and Doug Ducey of Arizona, to support his fictional stolen-election narrative.

Many G.O.P. governors emerged from the Trump years in strong political shape, despite intense criticism. All 10 of the most popular governors in the country are Republicans, according to polling by Morning Consult. And sitting Republican governors have kept their hands mostly clean of Jan. 6, a toxic subject among corporate donors in particular.

To an extraordinary degree, these G.O.P. governors have joined forces to fight off Trump’s handpicked challengers as well as those currying his favor — raising millions and intervening in primaries to support their colleagues like never before.

The alternative explanation, though, is that offered by Steven Taylor: incumbency and other factors explain these races. Trump and his brand of “populism” remain a powerful force but they’re not the only factor in these primaries.

Back to Hounsell:

Those running for office, like Kemp, have studiously avoided tangling with Trump. But others have been remarkably open about standing up to the man in Mar-a-Lago, unlike most of their colleagues in Washington.

Pete Ricketts, the governor of Nebraska and current co-chairman of the governors group along with Ducey, sided against Trump’s pick in his state’s Republican primary, Charles Herbster, and flew to Georgia to help Kemp.

Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland and an R.G.A. board member, has spoken of fighting “Trump cancel culture” and called for a “course correction” away from Trump; Christie seems to be quoted criticizing the former president daily, including in a recent article in The Washington Post detailing the governors’ plans to stop what he called Trump’s “vendetta tour.”

I haven’t paid close enough attention to Nebraska’s politics to have a useful opinion. A quick scan of Rickett’s Wikipedia page seems to indicate that he’s pretty damned Trumpy—he opposed to first impeachment, railed against vaccine mandates, etc.—but he’s term-limited. The winner of the Republican primary, Jim Pillen, only got 33.9% of the vote with Trump-endorsed Herbster getting 29.2% of the vote, Brent Lindstrom getting 26.7%, and the rest spread among six other candidates. I haven’t the foggiest who would have won a run-off.

Nor am I sure what to make of the Hogan and Christie examples. Like Ricketts, Hogan is term-limited. Unlike Ricketts, he served his two terms in a very blue state. The primary isn’t until July. Christie, spurned by Trump, has been battling him in the press. But he’s not in office and New Jersey is bluer than Maryland.

Opposing Trump is costly, though.

Governor’s races don’t tend to attract the same big money that Senate races do. Why not? Because more donors across the country care more about the next majority leader than, say, who runs Nebraska.

But the cash Republican governors have raised to support one another is significant.

They spent $4 million in Ohio to help Gov. Mike DeWine, $5 million to help Kemp in Georgia, $2 million to support Gov. Kay Ivey in Alabama and put more than $80,000 behind Gov. Brad Little in Idaho, who was fending off a bizarre challenge from his own lieutenant governor.

To complicate matters further, there are states where Trump and the R.G.A. are on the same side. In Texas, Trump and the governors supported Gov. Greg Abbott. In South Carolina, both sides are backing Gov. Henry McMaster. And Trump is also supporting Mike Dunleavy, the governor of Alaska.

I have no idea what we’re to make of any of that.

It gets trickier when there is no incumbent governor.

The most interesting test is coming up in Arizona, where Trump has endorsed Kari Lake, a charismatic former television presenter who is an avid proponent of his baseless election-fraud claims. Lake is leading in polls of the primary, ahead of the favorite of the local Republican establishment and the business community, Karrin Taylor Robson, and Matt Salmon, a former member of the U.S. House who was the Republican nominee for governor in 2002, losing by a whisker to Janet Napolitano.

Ducey, who is term-limited, has said that he “reserves the right” to endorse a candidate in the primary, and Robson, a developer who founded her own land-use strategy firm, would be the logical choice. In 2017, he appointed her to the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs the state’s public universities. Robson was in Nashville this week, according to a local ABC affiliate in Phoenix.

The primary begins earlier than the Aug. 2 date on the calendar suggests. Arizonans vote heavily by mail, and early ballots go out to voters in July. That means the next few weeks are critical, and an endorsement could happen soon.

Will Ducey come off the sidelines? His confidants aren’t saying. If he did so, it would be in his personal capacity. But because he is co-chairman of the R.G.A., his imprimatur would send a signal to donors and other insiders that Robson is the one to back.

It would also set off another confrontation with Trump, who has blamed Ducey for failing to overturn Arizona’s election results in 2020.

Back in the fall, when Ducey was contemplating a run for Senate, Trump blasted him as “the weak RINO Governor from Arizona” and said he would “never have my endorsement or the support of MAGA Nation!”

He said much the same about Kemp — and lost.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. What he is seeing, broadly speaking, is the fact that primaries are not exact instruments for shaping coherent parties. This is not “The Republicans” making choices and choosing strategically, it is a number of smaller groups of localized Republican voters making collective choices with varying amounts of coordination (if any coordination at all).

    People need to come to grips with the fact that a decentralized process will not produce a coherent result.

    This is yet another reason why talking about The Republicans and The Democrats as if there are centrally controlled entities with clear strategies, messages, etc. is simply a gross over-simplification.

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  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    Dr. T is closer to reality. The R governors that are holding TFG and to a point Trumpism at arms length are doing so, because Trumpism isn’t a successful governing philosophy and governors, by definition need to govern.

    It is significant that the most anti-Trump R governors are either out of office or will be come January. Most are simply keeping their distance and saying as little as possible about the TFG and when pressed offer platitudes, then change the subject.

    It may also be worth noting that, governors races are the last bastion of ‘all politics is local,’ politics. Chris Sununu can say that TFG is insane and he’ll pay no political price and will be reelected with 60+ percent of the vote, because voters in NH approve of his management of the state.

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  3. I think the piece the OP quotes is a great example of the mythology of how parties work in the US that I am constantly trying to combat. While yes, the two parties are real collective entities, the way they are shaped is not the way people think is true. There is far, far too much intentionality en masse attributed to the parties.

    We all want to assume that this is a logical, indeed democratic, way to nominate candidates and shape parties (if, indeed, only one that could possibly exist, except maybe the dreaded “smoke-filled rooms”). And so we try to make the outcomes make sense relative to our expectations.,

    But our expectations ought to be that primaries will produce factionalized and not fully coherent parties (especially when two parties are forced to represent everyone).

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    [O]ur expectations ought to be that primaries will produce factionalized and not fully coherent parties (especially when two parties are forced to represent everyone).

    And especially especially when they are decided by plurality winner. I don’t have any idea how we’re supposed to analyze a “win” by a guy who got 33.9% of the vote in a low-turnout contest against eight opponents. For all I know, 33.9% was his ceiling even among Nebraska Republican primary voters.

    3
  5. gVOR08 says:

    Trump was an aberration. He emerged from the primary system of which Dr. T speaks so highly /s. A primary that shook out into Trump and the seven, or twelve, or fifty, dwarfs. The GOP establishment didn’t want him. The majority of even GOP primary voters didn’t want him. He didn’t want him. There’s every reason to believe he ran as a brand building exercise hoping to break into double digits. And he got elected by a minority mostly because we almost never keep the incumbent party in the WH for three terms. Having just barely lucked into the presidency he then ruined the GOP brand and managed the rare feat of getting tossed after one term, handing both houses (one sorta) to the Dems. So is Hounshell seeing anything but the slowly dawning recognition the establishment can move past Trump? And that governor districts can’t be gerrymandered, forcing guvs in blue or purplish states to moderate.

    But it was never just Trump. The radicalized GOP base remains, so will anything change except minor matters of tone?

    3
  6. Kylopod says:

    It’s a real stretch to try to make a general statement about the GOP by citing the Republican governors of uber-blue states like Maryland and Massachusetts. Nobody applies the same logic in the other direction; nobody says “There are two Democratic Parties, since John Bel Edwards signed an anti-abortion bill.”

    Now, granted, the article also tries to fit the supposed relative independence of the governors of Georgia and Arizona into this “theory,” but it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, since their willingness to go against Trump (however fleetingly and marginally) has a particular context that’s worlds apart from what explains the utterly predicatable and electorally rational behavior of Hogan or Baker.

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  7. Michael Cain says:

    One of the characteristics that seems to matter here is whether there is a single metropolitan area that dominates the state, which the candidate must win in order to win the primary. Georgia has Atlanta; Arizona has Maricopa County; in Nebraska three counties that are adjacent or nearly so have over half the state’s population.

    The snarky voice in the back of my head also points out that even in those states where the non-endorsed candidate(s) may not buy into the Big Lie, they all seem to be willing to support greatly restricting access to abortion, making it more difficult to vote, and gerrymandered districts.

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  8. @gVOR08:

    But it was never just Trump. The radicalized GOP base remains, so will anything change except minor matters of tone?

    It clearly was never just Trump. But Trump’s win in 11/16 amplified some very specific elements of the GOP coalition. Pointing this out is not an attempt to absolve the GOP of their overall responsibility, but the reality remains that if Jeb or Rubio or even Cruz won, we wouldn’t be worrying about a Gov Mastriano overturning the EV in 2024 (among other things).

    And I know a lot of readers here will assert that they are all the same, but Cruz (to pick an obvious one) can be pretty horrible without being Donald “Hurricane Gun” Trump.

  9. CSK says:

    The Massachusetts Republican Party (all 24 member of it have) picked Geoff Diehl, a fanatically pro-Trump perennial loser, to run against Democrat Maura Healy, current attorney general, for the governorship. Guess who’ll win?

    I think the days here of Democrats cheerfully voting for Republican governors have come to an end, temporarily at least.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    To complicate matters further, there are states where Trump and the R.G.A. are on the same side. In Texas, Trump and the governors supported Gov. Greg Abbott. In South Carolina, both sides are backing Gov. Henry McMaster. And Trump is also supporting Mike Dunleavy, the governor of Alaska.

    It’s not complicated. Has the RGA ever not supported an incumbent governor? It stands to reason that at least a few of the trumpiest govs running for re-election would get the trump seal of approval. Hence they are on the “same side” every now and again.

    1
  11. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor & @James Joyner FTW:

    But our expectations ought to be that primaries will produce factionalized and not fully coherent parties (especially when two parties are forced to represent everyone)… especially when they are decided by plurality winner.

    This, so this. While I don’t think ranked-choice or run-off primaries would solve all of our party issues, I suspect they would definitely lead toward more coherent party representation at the State and Federal level.

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  12. Scott F. says:

    There aren‘t two Republican factions until one of those factions loudly and clearly states they would vote for the Democrat/Independent or they would not vote at all in an election for a state-wide or federal office.

    There’s nothing to be done in the many broadly uncompetitive districts across the country. But, I believe moderation will only come when GOP voters in competitive districts reject their tribalism in the general election whenever their party primaries in a radical. Mastriano losing really big to Fetterman in PA due to crossover votes or low GOP turnout would signal a rift in the GOP. Anything short of that is just noise.

    As I see it, the only path out of Trumpism requires non-rabid Republican voters willing to cede power rather than hand it to the their mob.

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  13. Scott says:

    @Scott F.:

    As I see it, the only path out of Trumpism requires non-rabid Republican voters willing to cede power rather than hand it to the their mob.

    How many of those are left? Haven’t we left years ago already?

    2
  14. James Joyner says:

    @Scott F.:

    There aren‘t two Republican factions until one of those factions loudly and clearly states they would vote for the Democrat/Independent or they would not vote at all in an election for a state-wide or federal office.

    But that’s just definitionally untrue. Such people simply aren’t Republicans.

    This faction existed in 2016 and in 2020. I was part of it in 2016: the NeverTrump faction. It was mostly national security professionals like myself but also conservative intellectuals like Bill Krystol and George Will. But these people, especially the subset of us who voted for Clinton and Biden, are effectively Democrats now.

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  15. just nutha says:

    but Cruz (to pick an obvious one) can be pretty horrible without being…

    In many ways, Cruz is, if anything, more horrible because he has a record that should show the trappings of being a public servant, should show a willingness to compromise on behalf of the good of society, should show a sense of responsibility to lead, and so on but actually shows a willingness to run as uber-Trump, a guy who sits in a crowded airplane pretending to be still drinking coffee to avoid wearing a mask in public, a guy who runs to Cancun to avoid a Covid outbreak, and so on.

    All things being equal, maybe the incompetent buffoon is a better GQP choice than the narcisistic sociopath.

    2
  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    This frustrates the armchair general in me. It complicates my preference for finding the bright clear line from point A to point Z. In the chaos of battle the more unified, disciplined force will almost always prevail – like Romans fighting Franks. The Republicans are almost always the more unified army and they win a disproportionate number of battles relative to their numbers. Our intellectual roots are in academia, entertainment and social justice advocacy; there’s are in the military, business and militant religions. This is where Democrats sorely miss the unions. They imposed some discipline.

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  17. gVOR08 says:

    I saw this in NYT. I didn’t read it, assuming it was the ten thousandth episode of NYT’s never ending search for the mythical reasonable Republicans. Doesn’t look like I missed much.

    3
  18. wr says:

    @just nutha: “a guy who sits in a crowded airplane pretending to be still drinking coffee to avoid wearing a mask in public, a guy who runs to Cancun to avoid a Covid outbreak, and so on.”

    Be fair to Cruz. He didn’t run to Cancun to avoid a Covid outbreak. He ran to Cancun to avoid a snowstorm.

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  19. Moosebreath says:

    @Scott F.:

    While I strongly agree with your comment, “Mastriano losing really big to Fetterman” is incorrect. Mastriano is running for Governor against Shapiro. Fetterman is running for Senate against the winner of the Oz/McCormick recount.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    This is yet another reason why talking about The Republicans and The Democrats as if there are centrally controlled entities with clear strategies, messages, etc. is simply a gross over-simplification.

    This is definitely true. And in the Republican case it’s hard to argue that the Party Establishment even make it into the top five in terms of ability to influence who is selected as the official candidate. I would rank it like this:
    1) Backing by a politically motivated billionaire
    2) Backing by an industry or large individual company who will expect total loyalty and initiative in promoting their interests
    3) Backing by the local conservative media figures
    4) Ability to engage in goofy stunts that will get media attention and people saying, “Whoa! He did/said that!?”

    And then maybe in fifth place might be the backing of the party establishment. Of course, in many states there isn’t really even a coherent establishment anymore.

    2
  21. @Matt Bernius:

    This, so this. While I don’t think ranked-choice or run-off primaries would solve all of our party issues, I suspect they would definitely lead toward more coherent party representation at the State and Federal level.

    TBH, neither ranked-choice nor run-offs solve the basic problems that primaries create. There is an argument to be made that they are an improvement over plurality, but the structural flaws remain.

    1
  22. @Scott F.:

    There aren‘t two Republican factions until one of those factions loudly and clearly states they would vote for the Democrat/Independent or they would not vote at all in an election for a state-wide or federal office.

    That’s not how factions work. That’s how party break-ups work.

    Factions, by definition, remain within a larger group.

  23. @James Joyner: I see you beat me to it.

  24. @just nutha: Cruz ia awful, but he takes governing seriously in a way that Trump never could or did. And I say that fully understanding how bad Cruz is.

    But if we step away from all of this and consider that Cruz wouldn’t ask about hurricane guns, nuking hurricanes, attacking Mexico and pretending we didn’t, using false flag fighter jets in Ukraine and so on, one has to admit that we are talking about differing levels of problems.

    Just consider the people Trump put in positions of power v. the mainstream people Cruz would have.

    Cruz would not have fomented an insurrection on 1/6. He certainly wouldn’t have been talking about not respecting electoral outcomes as early as the Fall of 2016.

    We need to understand the differences.

    1
  25. Jay L Gischer says:

    Once upon a time, Republicans followed the Reagan Rule: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican”

    That is long, long gone. We are seeing fractures in the unified Republican front all over the place.

    It is true that once Trump was nominated most Republicans rallied around him. How do they feel about it now? Do they think it was a good decision, did it play out well? Opinions, within Republcan ranks are decidedly mixed. This story is an example of that.

    It’s not like I disagree with anything Dr. T is saying. It’s more that I feel that the fractures within the coalition that Reagan put together is getting harder and harder to sustain. We have groups under the R banner that want very different things.

    And people don’t need to switch sides – vote for a D – to have an impact. Just staying home or voting third party will have a big impact.

  26. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    TBH, neither ranked-choice nor run-offs solve the basic problems that primaries create. There is an argument to be made that they are an improvement over plurality, but the structural flaws remain.

    Is this because people self-select into the primary system versus being selected by the party?

    1
  27. DK says:

    @gVOR08:

    Trump was an aberration.

    Is he?

    Republicans adore Trump: “In December 2020, 91 percent viewed him favorably, including 74 percent who viewed him very favorably.”

    And his support among Republicans was never much lower than that throughout his presidency, even before decent people started leaving the party.

    Trump’s support among Republicans is now in the 70-80% range. Lower, yes, but hardly a revolt.

    It’s more accurate to say anti-Trump Republicans are the aberration. Trumpism is the party now. Ron DeFascist (aka Technocratic Trump) is popular for a reason.

    8
  28. DK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    It is true that once Trump was nominated most Republicans rallied around him. How do they feel about it now?

    They are placing Trump at the top of their wishlist of 2024 Republican nominees.

    7
  29. DK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And I know a lot of readers here will assert that they are all the same, but Cruz (to pick an obvious one) can be pretty horrible without being Donald “Hurricane Gun” Trump.

    True. “A half a dozen” is not the exact same as “six.” One is a phrase with four words and eleven letters, and one is a word with three letters. But. Whatever.

    It is true that Lyin’ Ted would have done fascism in a more dignified way. A la Ron DeathSentence, Cruz would have provided plausible deniability to those looking for absolution as they embrace the Republican Party’s five decade march to white supremacy and radical right extremism.

    Trump embarassed the genteel bigots, ripping away the curtain because he has narcissistic personality disorder and no filter or impulse control. Cruz would not have done so. That is indeed different.

    8
  30. Jay L Gischer says:

    @DK: That’s what the poll you quoted says, for sure. Is that what the quoted story in the OP says? Not so much. Is that what the electoral results say? Also not so much. Is that what the ongoing schism among white Protestant evangelicals says? Not so much.

    This is a complicated situation. I don’t take polls at face value. People say “approve” or “disapprove” for lots of different reasons.

  31. DK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But our expectations ought to be that primaries will produce factionalized and not fully coherent parties (especially when two parties are forced to represent everyone).

    Because as I have long argued here, we don’t really have just two parties. We have a bunch of little parties (call them factions if you want) within two large, prefab umbrella coalitions that we call parties and that are in constant realignment.

    If people accepted this reality instead of lamenting “the two-party system,” they would manage expectations accordingly. Instead of deluding themselves that anything associated with the Republican and Democratic parties could ever be anything other than messy and incoherent. Or that breaking up the parties would make it less messy and incoherent.

    Welcome to multicultural liberal democracy in a far flug populous empire.

    5
  32. DK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I don’t take polls at face value. People say “approve” or “disapprove” for lots of different reasons.

    Gotta do what you gotta do. Anything so suburban whites can keep pretending “wokeness” is the problem instead of taking responsibility for voting for fascism, enabling bigotry and extremism, and for ignoring five decades of warnings that conservatism was on a dark and dangerous path.

    When Republicans *choose* to nominate Trump in 2024 and a majority of white folks vote for him again, maybe then the denial and coddling will stop and the confrontations and hard Thanksgiving table conversations will start.

    7
  33. just nutha says:

    @wr: My mistake. But am I correct that he abandoned his wife and children to the storm? I recall that being a part of the story but am too lazy to look it up.

  34. Kylopod says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Once upon a time, Republicans followed the Reagan Rule: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican”

    No, they didn’t. That’s one of the biggest myths about the GOP. And it’s especially ironic that it was named after a politician who literally challenged a sitting president from his own party for the GOP nomination.

    4
  35. James Joyner says:

    @DK:

    Because as I have long argued here, we don’t really have just two parties. We have a bunch of little parties (call them factions if you want) within two large, prefab umbrella coalitions that we call parties and that are in constant realignment.

    Yep. That’s pretty much what Steven (especially) and I have been arguing for a long time.

    2
  36. just nutha says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “Cruz would not have fomented an insurrection on 1/6. He certainly wouldn’t have been talking about not respecting electoral outcomes as early as the Fall of 2016.”

    I’m significantly less confident on the 1/6 point than you are. He might have respected the system enough to not think in terms of insurrection, though. Additionally, he’d probably have been less likely to lose. Now that insurrection is part of the national vocabulary/”election strategery,” I don’t trust Cruz any farther than I could throw a potato chip. (And as I recall, he voted to object to slates of electors as a vehicle to throw the election into the house.)

    3
  37. Gustopher says:

    @Scott F.:

    There aren‘t two Republican factions until one of those factions loudly and clearly states they would vote for the Democrat/Independent or they would not vote at all in an election for a state-wide or federal office.

    Are there not two factions in the Democratic Party that will generally vote for the other after the primary? The Progressives and the Mainstream Democrats routinely support each other, despite clearly being two factions.

    3
  38. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But if we step away from all of this and consider that Cruz wouldn’t ask about hurricane guns, nuking hurricanes, attacking Mexico and pretending we didn’t, using false flag fighter jets in Ukraine and so on, one has to admit that we are talking about differing levels of problems.

    Cruz is not as much of a buffoon, granted. But I think Trump’s buffoonery and incompetence held him back.

    Just consider the people Trump put in positions of power v. the mainstream people Cruz would have.

    Yes, let’s look at those mainstream people. They’ve all prostrated themselves before Trump.

    Sure, in an alternate history with no Trump they wouldn’t have, but they’ve been willing to accept a whole lot more authoritarianism and cult of personality than the sane, sober Republicans of your imagination. They were just waiting for an excuse.

    Cruz’s saving grace would be that he is apparently so personally odious that he cannot inspire loyalty in anyone. (I don’t see how Trump isn’t that odious, but about half the country disagrees with me)

    6
  39. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner: @Steven L. Taylor: Per definition of faction, sure, whatever. But, for practical purposes, GOP politicians have been voting in lock-step since around 2010. There may be no central establishment controlling who represents the GOP, but that doesn’t mean that once everyone has taken their seat they haven’t found a way to act as a monolith on policy and rhetoric – see Kevin McCarthy.

    Come general election time, the Republicans can count on a sizable number of low information, casual interest voters to cast their ballots based on the team jerseys having an R on them. Until it costs the GOP in general election time – until disaffected Republicans become effective Democrats – why would any group try to influence who is representing the party coming out of the primaries?

    1
  40. Scott F. says:

    @Moosebreath: Thanks for the check. I rushed off my earlier comment. Shapiro over Mastriano would be the indicator that there is such a thing as too insurrectionist for the tribal Republican voter.

    1
  41. Moosebreath says:

    @Scott F.:

    I think it won’t be that simple. I expect that in the Philly and Pittsburgh suburbs, there will be a lot of ticket splitting, with Shapiro a significantly higher percentage of the vote than Fetterman because Mastriano is a bridge too far for many Republicans. On the other hand, I also suspect that Mastriano will drive turnout in the central and northern tier of the state, so it may be a wash overall.

  42. @just nutha:

    Now that insurrection is part of the national vocabulary/”election strategery,” I don’t trust Cruz any farther than I could throw a potato chip

    That is because Trump made it possible.

    To be clear: do I think 2022 Ted Cruz might help foment a 1/6? Yes. I was referring above to 2016 Ted Cruz.