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They Hate The Swamp, So They Bankroll The Swamp

Matea Gold of The Washington Post reports that ordinary Republicans are so angry at the status quo that they're ... um, financing the party of the status quo:
They Hate The Swamp, So They Bankroll The Swamp
Image from: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

Matea Gold of The Washington Post reports that ordinary Republicans are so angry at the status quo that they're ... um, financing the party of the status quo:

Trump supporters eager to ‘drain the swamp’ help fill Republican Party coffers

Martha Adams, a longtime Republican voter, said she is “a little miffed” at the GOP and party leaders she feels are out of touch with the base’s populist mood. That’s in part why she has been responding to emails asking her to contribute to support President Trump’s agenda.

“He’s got a lot of roadblocks,” said Adams, 70, a retired speech pathologist from Austin, who said she has given a few hundred dollars this year — including $75 in May, two days after the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. “It’s just to let him know we still care and that we’re still here.”

... In giving to support Trump, his backers are pouring tens of millions of dollars into the coffers of the Republican National Committee, which has raised more from small-dollar contributions at this point in the election cycle than the national party has collected in more than a decade.

The low-dollar donations are helping fuel a massive fundraising advantage for the RNC, which has pulled in nearly twice as much as its Democratic counterpart this year.

Many of the fundraising appeals are in Trump's voice, so the GOP voters give, regardless of what they think about the GOP Congress.

“I tried to give just to him, because I think he knows best what to do,” Adams said. “I don’t know if I really meant to give it to the RNC.”

Gwynne Abrams, an unemployed nanny in Henderson, Nev., who gave $78 to the joint committee, said that Trump has been “under attack” from his own party. She plans to vote for the GOP challenger taking on incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in her state next year.


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“I’m not giving to the Republican Party, really,” said Abrams, 56, adding that the party has “done nothing since they’ve been in control of the Senate and House.”

"The joint committee" is the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which is primarily for Trump's reelection but gives 25% of what it collects to the RNC.

I keep reading that the Republicans are in trouble. Politico reported a couple of days ago that some big donors are closing their wallets, because they're frustrated by the stalled legislative agenda. The New York Times told us yesterday that mainstream Republicans are afraid of barbarians at the gate who are linked to Steve Bannon and the Mercers:

Republican leaders in Congress are under attack from all sides of their own party, battered by voters from the right and left, spurned by frustrated donors and even threatened by the Trump White House for ineffective leadership and insufficient loyalty.

Since last week, Senate Republicans lost one of their own when Roy S. Moore, the firebrand former state judge, trounced Senator Luther Strange in a Senate runoff in Alabama. The retirement of Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee kicked off a potentially fratricidal fight for his seat, with the establishment’s preferred successor, Gov. Bill Haslam, declining to run on Thursday.

An audiotape surfaced of Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, lambasting Republican leaders and urging conservative donors to close their wallets to lawmakers who are disloyal to President Trump....

Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, who was first elected to Congress in 1978, said he had never seen rank-and-file Republicans so stirred up against the party’s leaders in Congress.

“Right now, the Moore-Bannon faction prevails,” Mr. Shelby said.

The Times story suggests that all this infighting, and the possibility that Bannon/Mercerites will be too extreme to win general elections, might cost Republicans the Senate in 2018.

But if Republicans voters are so fired up that they're giving to the RNC in record numbers, that implies that many crazies who win primaries will also win general elections. I think Democrats could win back the House, but given the number of seats they have to defend in the Senate, I find it hard to imagine that Democrats can win both chambers.

I think what's happening to the Republicans is what The New Republic's Jeet Heer recently discussed:

Not only does the party stay together, it flourishes. The Tea Party helped the Republicans capture the House of Representatives. GOP extremism didn’t stop the party from winning the Senate in 2014. And Trump ran the most openly racist national campaign in decades, but won a commanding electoral college victory. If the Republican Party is on the verge of a crack-up, it’s a very strange one indeed that sees them gaining a stranglehold on all three branches of government....

The Republican Party has survived the Great Depression, Watergate, the Iraq war and the Great Recession of 2008 because, at the end of the day, they have enough voters who prefer even a flawed GOP to the Democrats....

What’s striking is that this so-called war between the establishment and the populists always ends in the same way: with the establishment absorbing elements of the populist agenda to win elections. Seen in this light, these so-called insurgencies or civil wars never really hurt the Republican Party. Rather, they give it more energy by riling up the base.

Just yesterday, Politico reported that an establishment GOP candidate for Claire McCaskill's Senate seat in Missouri, state attorney general Josh Hawley, decided to court Bannon after Bannon's network threatened to oppose him in the Republican primary.

On the call, Hawley reminded Bannon of their mutual friends, including the Mercer megadonor family, which bankrolls much of Bannon’s political work. Hawley met with Robert Mercer last fall when he was running for attorney general, one Republican close to Hawley said. Hawley also mentioned Club for Growth President David McIntosh and conservative legal expert Leonard Leo, who advises President Donald Trump on judicial nominations.

What do you think Hawley will do? He'll strategically tack to the right in order to guard his extreme-right flank. That's what a lot of Republicans are going to do: become more Bannon-esque (and more Trump-esque), or at least try to seem that way. The establishment GOP will absorb this anger and take nourishment from it. And the party's voters will turn out regardless of who wins the intraparty battles.

So Democrats need to up their turnout. GOP infighting won't save us.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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