TAP’s Paul Waldman takes a cautious peek ahead and figures Republicans will have little trouble holding onto the House in 2014 despite their current risk-taking, but may be in the process of sacrificing the presidency again. That means more fun with divided government:

[This] would mean that we just go on in this current vein. The GOP’s descent into madness helps Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or Martin O’Malley become president, and stalemate politics in Congress continues. The image of the Republican party doesn’t recover, convincing most Americans that they’re too irresponsible to be trusted with governing, making it all but impossible for them to win the presidency or take control of the Senate. Yet they keep holding the House indefinitely, or at a minimum until a post-2020 redistricting reduces their stranglehold on the House.

I would add to Paul’s analysis the reinforcing facts that (a) the Senate landscape in 2016 is very favorable to Democrats, which means if Republicans miss a takeover in 2014 (which looks increasingly likely) Democrats will have a Senate fortress much like that of GOPers in the House, and (b) the presidential/midterm turnout disparities which I’ve talked about so often reinforce the likelihood of a relatively good Republican year in ’14 and a relatively good Democratic year in ’16.

About the only near likelihood to an end to divided government I can see is a Democratic sweep in 2016. But given the paucity of vulnerable GOP House districts, that would take a mighty big wave, as we saw last year. And so, as Waldman concludes:

This is a pretty bleak picture of the future, I know. And I suppose it’s possible that after a third presidential loss in a row, a leader who pulls the GOP to the center emerges, in the way Bill Clinton did for the Democrats after three such losses. But it’s important to remember that even liberal Democrats went along with Clinton’s recentering, at least in some part. They were willing to admit that they had a problem that nominating the most liberal presidential candidate wouldn’t necessarily solve. But do you think this generation of Tea Party Republicans will ever acknowledge that moving further to the right is not the answer to every problem and every defeat?

Not if there is even a shred of evidence they can seize to claim otherwise. People have ideologies for reasons other than winning elections, and won’t abandon them on tactical grounds unless defeat is so certain that even Dick Morris would acknowledge it.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.