Lawmakers in the mainstream of the Republican Party will face a rough time in the 2016 elections as the rhetoric of conservative talk show hosts and conservative activists lurches the party to the right, said Juan Williams.
In a column for The Hill
, the author and political analyst for Fox News says the GOP is at a disadvantage going into election season, forced to defend 24 Senate seats — compared to Democrats who are only protecting 10 seats — all while minorities, women, and young people are expected to have high turnout.
"The danger posed to Republicans by tea party politics is on display right now," Williams said.
The Republican Party in the Senate, which has an eight-seat majority, has reacted to tea party outrage over Planned Parenthood. But one vulnerable Republican, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, defected knowing his position would have hurt his re-election chances.
Other Republicans are also facing tough re-election chances. Specifically, seven Republican seats are in states that President Barack Obama won in both 2008 and 2012, and held by lawmakers elected during the tea party wave of 2010 who are now finding themselves up against formidable Democratic challengers, he said.
"The difficulty facing Republican moderates in 2016 may be compounded if the party's presidential nominee brings attention to polarizing issues such as gay marriage and abortion. And there will be another set of problems if the candidate is personally polarizing," he wrote.
"The alarms for Senate Republicans are already ringing as fundraising for the cycle gets into gear."
He noted that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $1.6 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (NRSC) in June. And the candidates, parties, and political interests are already bracing themselves for an expensive and negative campaign.
"It is no secret that the right-wing base of the GOP is unhappy with Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader.
"But if they keep up the extreme rhetoric, they may well be longing for the days of McConnell's leadership —t hat is, when New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer becomes Majority Leader instead," he concluded.
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