A national party no more

A NATIONAL PARTY NO MORE…. David Broder highlights an increasingly obvious political reality about the regional power of the Republican Party.

Led by Republican senators from Southern states where there are many foreign-owned auto plants, the Senate refused to cut off a filibuster against the bill to provide bridge loans to General Motors and Chrysler. This time, the opposition was led by Bob Corker of Tennessee and Richard Shelby of Alabama. When the Senate failed by eight votes to cut off debate, Southern and border-state Republicans voted 16 to 2 against the measure. On a similar vote on the 2007 immigration bill, the Southerners split 17 to 3 against.

Even though Bush later used his authority to provide the loan, the defeat of this legislation at Republican hands will not be forgotten when GOP senators run for reelection in 2010 in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. It will also echo in industrial states such as Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, New York and New Jersey, when Republicans try to challenge for Senate and House seats.

The Southern domination of the congressional Republican Party has become more complete with each and every election. This year, Republicans suffered a net loss of two Senate and three House seats in the South, but they lost five Senate seats and 18 House seats in other sections. No Republican House members are left in New England, and they have become ever scarcer in New York and Pennsylvania and across the Midwest.

Five years ago, Zell Miller wrote a book called, “National Party No More.” If only he’d gotten the party right, he would have been a visionary.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.