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How the NRSC's Approach This Cycle Could Cost the GOP How the NRSC's Approach This Cycle Could Cost the GOP

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How the NRSC's Approach This Cycle Could Cost the GOP

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has taken a bit of a laissez-faire position toward this election cycle, but it may pay the price in November, Dan Friedman reports in this week's National Journal Magazine.

Friedman explains:

Last year, the League of Women Voters bought television ads in Missouri faulting Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill for voting to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency. Concerned the ads could hurt a vulnerable incumbent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., summoned representatives from the group and environmental organizations to a May 2011 meeting to tell them that attacking McCaskill would hurt their agenda. The spots stopped. McCaskill today can tout a moderate voting record without flak from the left and hit the campaign's homestretch a favorite.

Compare Reid's heavy hand with Senate Republican leaders' floundering in the same state. In Missouri's three-way Senate primary, they saw business executive John Brunner as the best option and Rep. Todd Akin as a weaker general-election candidate. But the National Republican Senatorial Committee stayed out of the contest, part of a revised approach instituted after the committee drew complaints in 2010 for opposing tea party favorites in primaries.

So, what accounts for the difference?

But claims that campaign-committee performance can be chalked up solely to leaders' competence overlook emerging differences between the parties. Under President Obama, the GOP has become the more fractious party. The Republican insurgent-versus-establishment divide defies the stereotypical view of the GOP as more able to impose party discipline than the bigger-tent Democratic camp.

Republicans "in many ways are a little more diverse" than Democrats, McConnell said in an interview this summer with National Journal, noting that Democrats "have more ... ideological harmony."

Magazine subscribers can read more here.

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