LAT: GOP falling apart. Real story is much more striking

LAT: GOP falling apart. Real story is much more striking

The CoronationThe Republican Party may have just seen its second straight feckless presidential campaign. Yet it has what The New York Times calls “firm hold” of the House of Representatives. And 2014 is shaping up as “unpleasant” for Democrats hoping to keep control of the Senate, according to Time magazine.

Meanwhile, at the state level, the GOP is in about as good shape as it has been in decades. It controls 30 of 50 governorships and the legislature in 26 of 50 states, with de facto control in a 27th state (Virginia); Democrats control 19 legislatures. This GOP surge isn’t just in traditional GOP and swing states. In Michigan — Michigan, the birthplace of the belligerent trade union movement — the state has of late adopted right-to-work laws.

As National Public Radio analyst Achy Obejas — a die-hard liberal — puts it, Republicans have “a surprisingly healthy farm team network.”

Surveying this landscape, what does a veteran Los Angeles Times political reporter conclude? The Republican Party is in danger of falling apart. Doyle McManus actually had an op-ed over the weekend headlined “Is the GOP self-destructing?”

Strife-ridden GOP’s popularity a verdict on Obama

McManus’ thesis is that the battle between what might be called the Ted Cruz/Rand Paul and the Mitch McConnell/Chris Christie wings of the Republican Party is so acute that it has the party, at least in Congress, in constant chaos — unable to agree on how much to challenge President Obama and how far to go on such issues as raising the debt ceiling, undermining Obamacare, etc.

But this strife, while paralyzing GOP efforts to operate coherently in Washington, is interesting for a far different point than the one put forth by McManus: It makes the party’s state-level strength and 2014 prospects are all the more remarkable.

The hard numbers show that after four and a half years of Barack Obama, the Republican Party is in generally strong shape at the state level and doing all right in Congress — despite a lack of coherence on really big issues, and despite a bigger fissure than ever between libertarians who don’t care about social issues and cultural conservatives who want a never-ending war over these issues. Sen. Paul has also illustrated the party’s militarism is by no means uniform in 2013.

So the Republicans have all these headaches — yet they are still doing well by every measure of elected officials outside of the presidency.

That certainly points to a deep dissatisfaction with the Obama status quo.

I am not a Republican. I’ve voted for the GOP nominee twice in the last 24 years, preferring protest votes. But I certainly buy the Republican critique that the media is in the tank for Obama. That’s why we see stories that suggest the GOP is falling apart because of its mass internal dissension when the far more accurate and interesting story is that the party is doing fine in the most crucial stat of all — elected offices held — despite its semi-civil war.


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