A short click over to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) website confirms their claim to be “the only national organization solely devoted to electing Republicans to the United States Senate.” This makes one wonder why the NRSC would involve itself in primary fights seeking to defeat Republican challengers who presumably they would want to help should these challengers win their primary battles.
The question occurred to me after receiving an email from the NRSC touting a poll claiming that 36 year United States Senate incumbent Thad Cochran enjoys a 17-point lead over challenger Chris McDaniel. Meant to despirit supporters of the Tea Party backed insurgent who has received endorsements from conservative organizations like The Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, The Madison Project and Tea Party Express and conservative leaders including Sarah Palin and Mark Levin, the poll tells a much different story on closer examination.
Commissioned by a polling firm whose president is a former strategist for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the companion arm to the NRSC in the House of Representatives, the poll finds that 57% claim to support the “goals and ideals of the Tea Party”. In addition, the poll reports that 59% identify as very conservative and 32% identify as somewhat conservative. Think about this for a moment. Nearly 3/5 of those polled self-identify as very conservative and support the Tea Party movement yet an insurgent candidate supported by leading national Tea Party groups and the nation’s leading conservative voices is trailing a 36 year incumbent who claims not to know much about the Tea Party movement. Does this make sense? It does when you consider that nearly 3/5 of those polled are 66 years of age or older and only 1/10 of those polled are under the age of 50. That might help when polling support for a 76 year-old incumbent.
While this poll lies in stark contrast with other recent polling data showing the race to be much tighter, it begs a larger question. Why did the NRSC commission this push poll and why is it going out on a limb to support an incumbent when either candidate would crush his Democrat opponent in a general election? Perhaps, the answer lies in the NRSC’s true mission. Though the website claims that their mission is to elect Republican candidates, NRSC staff admits freely that its mission is really to re-elect incumbents.
Therein lies the problem. What happens when conservatives believe incumbent Republicans are not representing their interests and national Republican organizations are aligned against them? They do not vote. One need look only at the 2012 Presidential election where the Republican candidate failed to improve on the 2008 Republican vote total despite running against an incumbent with a record of real unemployment north of 10%.
If six-term United States Senator Thad Cochran needs the support of the NRSC in order to win a seventh term, perhaps it is time for him to consider taking a well-earned retirement. Considering that Thad Cochran was first elected to the United States Senate when Chris McDaniel was in first grade, perhaps it is time for Mississippi to have new representation in Washington, D.C.