It’s not about O’Donnell, it’s about the NRSC

Slate’s headline is “Nightmare in Delaware,” and Dave Weigel (a First State native) writes that there’s no way, no way, newly-minted Republican senatorial nominee Christine O’Donnell can win in Delaware. Our own David Freddoso is equally skeptical, and Mark Hemingway has written (and consequently taken abuse for) a critical look at O’Donnell (one steeped in solid reporting by John McCormack, whose conservative chops were exhibited in reporting that helped defeat both New York RINO candidate Dede Scozzafava and presumptuous Massachusetts Democrat Martha Coakley). But if you look at the arguments, O’Donnell isn’t the central issue.

The central issue was the Republican Party. Insiders have so consistently made it difficult for conservative candidates (and their supporters), this result shouldn’t be all that surprising. They did it to themselves. How toxic have they made this environment, that the grassroots of their own party rejects anything they do? The NRSC has created its own backlash, for example, by once supporting politically disastrous Florida Gov. Charlie Crist over conservative favorite Marco Rubio, or going to bat for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski over conservative military vet Joe Miller. It’s what therapists call a “broken relationship.”

Those who believe the Buckley rule, that conservatives should vote for the “rightward-most viable candidate,” know that the the party establishment rarely followed it. If it had, it might have been taken seriously when addressing O’Donnell’s shortcomings. Instead, party leaders are beginning to find that people are refusing to follow, not in preference for another leader, but out of disdain for the status quo. They don’t care to win at any cost. They just don’t want to be stuck with someone they think is a loser.

Follow J.P. Freire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JPFreire.

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