The authors of Shattered, the inside story of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, tell a story of a campaign without a cause. Hillary felt it was her turn, that she’d earned it, and was entitled to the Presidency. She had no other rationale for her candidacy. Throughout her entire campaign, she was angry and frustrated that no one could come up with a convincing reason she should be President. She practically comes out and says it: why can’t somebody tell me why I’m running?
Presidential campaigns without causes don’t do well. In 1980, when Sen. Ted Kennedy couldn’t come up with a reason he was running against President Carter, he was doomed.
Senate races are different. Being the most highly qualified candidate is often enough. But in a Republican primary between two roughly equal conservative and qualified candidates, the winner will be the one who can communicate a message, frame an issue, draw a contrast.
Roy Moore won because he had a message. He will be an agent of change within the Republican caucus. He’s not going to the Senate to join the club. He’s going to drain the swamp. And that starts with deposing the King of the Swamp, Mitch McConnell.
Offhand, I can’t recall this happening before in American history. When has a Senate Majority Leader been so unpopular in his own party that promising to oppose him is a winning issue in Republican primaries? But then, when have we had one with a 9% national approval rating? And back home, his approval is just 18%.
What we saw in Alabama we’re going to see again in Mississippi, Arizona, and Nevada. The incumbents in these states are tied to McConnell, and he’ll spend most of his remaining money defending them. In states where the seat is open, like Tennessee and possibly Utah, will any of the leading Republican candidates even want any of McConnell’s money? You take the money, you pay the price. Worth it?
In open seats, or in seats where an incumbent Democrat is being challenged, who wants to be seen as Mitch McConnell’s man? Ask soon-to-be-former U. S. Senator Luther Strange about how that works out.
Or would you could ask Roy Moore, the anti-McConnell. Soon-to-be Senator Roy Moore.