Let me finish tonight with this.
Sometimes 90% just isn’t good enough.
Ask Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the U.S. Senate who, despite that lifetime approval rating from American Conservative Union, is out of step with some Kentuckians on the right.
A recent Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll of 609 registered voters found twice as many people promising to vote against McConnell than those committed to supporting him. Only 34% of Republicans said they’d support him against all competitors.
Some in the Bluegrass State are clamoring for a primary challenger for McConnell. McConnell’s supposed misstep? The positively audacious acts of helping to craft the 2008 Wall Street bailout and negotiating with Vice President Biden an aversion of the fiscal cliff a few weeks ago.
It all raises the prospect that yet another GOP Senate seat could succumb to the Grand Old Party’s ongoing purity effort. And worse, instead of halting these self-inflicted wounds, many Republicans are focused on changing the way electoral votes are tabulated in presidential elections. GOP officials in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio have considered abandoning the winner take all approach to electing presidents.
The ramifications would be significant. If every electoral vote in the country were awarded by congressional district (plus two votes for the statewide victor), Mitt Romney would have won the Electoral College, 276 to 262. If Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia adopted the new system, Obama’s sizable margin would have been reduced to four, 271 to 267.
Luckily, Republican leaders in several of those states are throwing cold water on those efforts. And I think they’re doing their party a favor. It’s crazy to tinker with the Electoral College while losing winnable Senate seats to the fringe factor.
And fixing that dynamic should be the party’s priority, before it jeopardizes someone like Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, where Democrats still maintain a registration edge. Instead, McConnell might turn out to be the latest Republican whose willingness to compromise was deemed unacceptable by a relatively small but passionate cadre of primary voters.
The GOP would be better served by embracing leaders with a sensible streak—or fighting for a system of more open primaries.