While we fully anticipate a competitive primary and general election, the reality is that the GOP brand continues to erode by the day. Last week’s GOP debate put a spotlight on the problem, leading The Washington Post to conclude that “much of the Republican field has now taken positions that are at odds with mainstream American opinion.” Poll after poll shows that the positions they hold are out-of-date and out-of-step with everyday families - and the nature of the GOP primary will only exacerbate the divide between the candidates and the general public, particularly key swing voters. Furthermore, many of the leading GOP candidates are relying heavily on their Super PACs rather than building a campaign field organization they control.No, it is not true that "the GOP brand continues to erode by the day" -- and if it were true, the conventional wisdom mongers in the mainstream press would just shore up the GOP, as they always do.
The Republican Party should be embarrassing itself now, but what's happening instead is that Donald Trump -- a pure product of the GOP's media wing, otherwise known as Fox News -- is embarrassing himself, while the GOP is successfully conveying the impression that his words and deeds have nothing to do with the party. Also, Trump is braying at such a high decibel level that the extreme positions of other candidates -- Scott Walker and Marco Rubio rejecting a rape-and-incest exception to a ban on abortion, for instance, or current Iowa 2nd-place challenger Ben Carson saying that Planned Parenthood sets up shop in black neighborhoods to in order to practice eugenics -- aren't being noticed by the vast majority of voters. Trump's cranked-to-11 style is preventing these statements from getting scrutiny. In that way, he's helping to minimize the erosion of the GOP brand.
But it wouldn't matter if Trump weren't there, because the chattering class always gives do-overs to the GOP after any moment of embarrassment, arguing that the embarrassing Republicans aren't the real GOP. The same should be expected after this Republican primary season. If you doubt my limitless-do-over theory, recall the government shutdown of 2013 -- by 2014, we were being told that that Tea Party wing of the GOP had been thoroughly tamed by the Republican Establishment. Before that, in 2010 we were told that the earnest grassroots populists of the Tea Party were the breath of fresh air rejuvenating the GOP, and thus dispelling the stench of Bushism. And before that, in 2000, the recently departed Newt Gingrich was flushed down the memory hole as we were encouraged to embrace the jovial, backslapping, earnest new leader of the GOP, George W. Bush.
It's always like this -- the public may not agree with the GOP on issues, and may have been repulsed by the recent words and deeds of prominent Republicans, but the brand always gets refreshed, and the political mainstream always tells us that there's no rot under the new coat of paint. Next year, after our successful mainstream-media brainwashing, we won't associate the eventual GOP nominee with Trump any more than we associated the 2010 Republican congressional victors with Christine O'Donnell, or the 2014 winners with the villain of the 2013 shutdown, Ted Cruz.
(Oh, and those "independent" Republican super PACs? Is Mook seriously arguing that they don't coordinate carefully with the campaigns?)
If Hillary Clinton can win under these circumstances, fine -- Obama found ways to win in 2008 and 2012. But if Mook thinks Democrats are going to win in large part because Republicans are weakened by the current primary campaign, he needs to learn a lot more about American politics.