Do Moderate Republicans Matter?

One of the biggest surprises to me recently has been the emergence of National Review as a location for some quality reporting on Republicans. I’ve thought of NRO as mostly a cheerleader site, but with Robert Costa taking the lead, it’s now becoming a place to get information beyond what today’s talking points happen to be. That’s good!

That said…I’m more than a little confused about today’s item, from Jonathan Strong, claiming that “The Tuesday Group, a moderate-Republican caucus long ignored within the House GOP, is quietly starting to fight back against the conference’s right turn.”

The problem? There’s really no evidence that House moderates are having any effect at all. In the article, I mean. Typical anecdote:

Tuesday Group members will “get up in a [meeting of the Republican caucus] and express a point of view and basically, the leaders listen to them, but everybody else sort of tunes out,” said former representative Steven LaTourette of Ohio, now the president of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership.

It goes on like that, reporting on several recent skirmishes that the moderates lost; there’s really nothing at all about any successes.

So what’s the deal here? Strong noticed the existence of the Tuesday Group, thought there might be a story there, reported it out and found nothing but was already committed to a point of view? Some unexpected editorial decision from NR to show tolerance by throwing a bone to moderates? There really is some sort of resurgence of the moderates — who, after all, have just as much ability to sink a GOP-only bill in the House as the Gohmert-Bachmann group — but Strong didn’t quite come up with the stories to convince us?

I’ll admit: I’m puzzled. Interested, but puzzled.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

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Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.