As the Washington Post notes, the combination of Tea Party primary voters, the 24/7 news cycle, a weak "frontrunner" in Jeb Bush, and the gut of Clown Car Crazy candidates is a recipe for a massive disaster heading into 2016, and the odds of an explosion are ridiculously high.
Party officials are growing worried about a wide-open nominating contest likely to feature a historically large and diverse field. At best, they say, the Republican primaries will be a lively showcase of political talent — especially compared with the relative coronation taking shape on the Democratic side. But officials also acknowledge just how risky their circumstance is for a party that hasn’t put on a good show in a long time.
With no clear front-runner and Bush so far unable to consolidate his path to the nomination — his fumbles over the Iraq war and his brother’s legacy further exposed his vulnerabilities — the GOP’s internecine battle could stretch well into the spring of 2016.
This could cost presidential aspirants tens of millions of dollars; pull them far to the right ideologically, from hot-button social issues to foreign policy; and jeopardize their general-election chances. And in such a muddled lineup — officials are planning to squeeze 10 or more contenders onto the debate stage — candidates will be rewarded for finding creative ways to gain notice.
“We’re in a danger zone,” said Doug Gross, a top Republican establishment figure in Iowa. “When the party poobahs put this process together, they thought they could telescope this to get us a nominee who could appeal to a broad cross-section of people. What we’ve got instead is a confederation of a lot of candidates who aren’t standing out — and in order to stand out, you need to scream the loudest.”
Looming above the GOP show is Hillary Rodham Clinton, the dominant Democratic candidate whom Republican officials brashly dismiss as a scandal-plagued, out-of-touch relic of the past but whose early strength and political durability is nevertheless giving them a serious scare.
Republican officials are dismayed that months of relentless, negative press coverage of her use of private e-mail servers, foreign donations to her family’s charitable foundation and her six-figure paid speeches have done minimal damage to her favorability ratings.
At last week’s Republican National Committee meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., party leaders plotted their path back to power and confronted the demographic changes that have made the Electoral College more challenging for Republicans, with their heavily male, overwhelmingly white base.
“To win in a presidential election year, the Democrats have to be good,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said. “As Republicans, we need to be about perfect in order to win.”
And nobody among the GOP faithful can handle that kind of pressure. There's just going to be too many Todd Akin moments over a protracted primary mess with too many debates and too many opportunities to let the mask slip and to remind the American people that Republicans are pretty much insane.
But it'll be fun to watch.