"By picking Paul Ryan, the tea party favorite son whose proposed 2010 and 2011 budgets would have axed unemployment insurance, Welfare, and Medicaid while privatizing Social Security and Medicare, Mitt Romney ensured the 2012 election would be about the radical Republican Party rather than Obama's first term. A Romney defeat (as now seems likely) would equal a repudiation of the wingnut fringe and tea party astroturf groups and a return to sanity for Republicans in the future."
First, remember that Romney already endorsed Ryan's budgets and most of his positions. Nothing Ryan brings to the table will make Romney any more odious to non-conservatives than he already is. The only possible damage done would be with those seniors who don't watch FOX News, those who can be persuaded by Democratic arguments that Ryan seeks to abolish Medicare. On the other hand, Ryan welds the conservative vote to Romney's side for the election. His base is now secure, which means he can stop defending his right-wing bona fides and focus on attacking Obama.
Next, bear in mind that the Republicans were already repudiated, and soundly, in 2006 and 2008. Torture, war, financial deregulation, and tax cuts for the wealthy were all part of those campaigns, and if the Republicans cared about what the nation as a whole thought, they would have changed. Instead, they've become MORE radical, not less, with every election. Their ongoing excuse: "We were undone because George W. Bush and John McCain were fake conservatives. If our candidates had only been conservative ENOUGH, the people would stand behind us!"
Mitt Romney, for reasons I shouldn't have to explain, is a candidate tailor made to extend that excuse for another election. If he wins, it will be because he changed his positions to match what the radical base demanded of him. If he loses, he becomes the scapegoat for the other Republicans who lose in the election- "I would have won if not for that Quisling statist Romney!"
One or two elections is not enough to undo the radical Republican fever. They have to be kept out of power for a prolonged period of time- over a decade, at least- and start losing elections that they ought to win. Only then, only when the money begins to shift away and the leadership of the party is itself jeopardized, will change become possible.
Bear in mind, by the way, that the money is going to be very reluctant to change hands. The billionaires and corporations backing pro-conservative PACs all love the current radical GOP agenda. These are people who want a domestic economy where employers control every aspect of their employees' lives while taking zero responsibility for their well-being. They want police who act to enforce the interests of the rich rather than protecting the lives of the poor. They want social changes to make the poor second-class citizens without a voice and women into prisoners of their own fertility. Many of the people involved are religious zealots who also favor abolishing public education in favor of religious schools and supporting an apartheit state in Israel. Such men (and it is always men, and almost always white men) don't fear the crazy: they SUPPORT it.
Finally: what are the chances of another wave election, like 2006 and 2008, happening this year? Practically nil, as it happens. First, take the Senate, where thanks to 2006 Republicans are only defending ten seats. Democrats have to defend over twenty- and not less than three of them (North Dakota, Nebraska, and Missouri) can be written off as gone. The Dems could also lose seats in Virginia, Montana, and Florida. On the other end, the only likely Republican loss of a seat is in Maine, where independent Angus King says he's as likely to caucus with the Republicans as the Democrats. Barring a nationwide revolt against the Republicans as a party, the Democrats are as likely as not to lose control of the Senate.
On to the House of Representatives. The 2010 Census resulted in a net four House seats shifting from blue states to red states, where Republican legislatures were present to ensure that those seats and even more went Republican. After the 2010 elections 29 state legislatures were controlled by the Republicans, allowing them to gerrymander their House districts to the most effective configuration for producing one district where a Democrat gets 90% of the vote and four districts where a Republican gets 60%. The cards have been thoroughly stacked in the conservatives' favor.
To make it worse, as usual Democrats have failed to stand up in most cases. Here's a list of every US House race in which:
- there is no Democratic incumbent at present (regardless of whether they're running for re-election or retiring)
- there is at least one Democratic candidate (dozens of Republicans are running in districts without a Democratic opponent)
- at last one Democrat running for the office is a "serious" candidate (i. e. an experienced politician who doesn't make a habit of running Quixotic longshot campaigns; I'm being VERY generous with this category)
That's a total of 41 districts, either open or with a Republican incumbent, in which the Democrats are making a decent effort to try to flip them. In many of the above districts the incumbent has such an overwhelming advantage as to make the job hopeless, but let's just focus on the number 41.
Currently there are 191 Democrats in the House of Representatives. Thanks to redistricting and attrition, about ten of those will lose their seats in the next Congress, leaving about 181 re-elected for a base. In order to control the House a party needs 218 votes.
That means Democrats need to win 27 out of 41 of those strongly contested Republican seats to retake the House- or else find someone lucky among the candidates I didn't list, those candidates who are unserious, unexperienced, or underfunded. The smart money is betting on a Democratic pickup of only about 20 seats.
So- the most likely outcome is that Romney loses, but Republicans retain control of the House and gain control of the Senate. Under this scenario, Republican insanity won't get better; it will double down.
Palin/Bachmann 2016, anyone?