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December 31st, 2012 11:10 am
GOP Has Reason to Refuse Bad Deal

Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post has a very insightful post about why Republicans are in political position to refuse a bad deal on the “Fiscal Cliff.”

Of the 234 Republicans elected to the House on Nov. 6, just 15 (!) sit in congressional districts that Obama also won that day, according to calculations made by the Cook Political Report’s ace analyst David Wasserman. That’s an infinitesimally small number…. The Senate landscape paints the same picture — this time looking forward. Of the 13 states where the 14 Republican Senators will stand for reelection in 2014 (South Carolina has two, with Lindsey O. Graham and Tim Scott up in two years time), Obama won just one in 2012 — Maine…. [But] fully one-third of the 21 Senate Democrats who will stand for reelection in 2014 represent states that Romney won.

It is axiomatic on the right that Republicans have misplayed the already-weak hand they have been dealt in these “Cliff” negotiations. I myself think the misplays have been not quite as egregious as others think, although I do think the strategic, tactical, and communications skills of the GOP are in pretty bad shape overall. (I also think, as I wrote here a few weeks back, that the whole idea of these closed-door negotiations was misguided.) But even different degrees of “bad” are all still “bad,” which means conservatives are left in a poor position no matter what. But Cillizza’s long view shows that, politically speaking, Republicans probably have less downside than had been thought, if we “go over the cliff.” My biggest concern about the cliff is the gutting of defense spending. That can be fixed. It almost certainly will be, after the fact, regardless. But Republicans actually will have almost as much leverage (they can’t have much less, because they now already have so little) in coming months on taxes as they do now. And perhaps the extra time might give them a chance to find somebody who can actually communicate their message more effectively, thus changing the narrative and giving everybody right of center (and therefore, the whole country, because our principles are good for public policy) a better deal than we might get in these last 12 hours of the year.

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