The turnout experts, TV whizzes, and all-around gurus of the Grand Old Party have been outnumbered and outsmarted by their adversaries, who have spent a decade retrofitting their entire political infrastructure. The result is a dizzying talent gap between the two parties’ political classes, one that shows few signs of closing as the 2014 midterms begin. In some ways, the GOP is years behind on solving a problem that has no quick fixes.
Most young Republican operatives view organizing as a mere entry point to a career that will eventually lead to bigger, and better-paying, gigs. “Democrats actually set up and train people to think about those jobs as careers,” said Brian Stobie, a partner at the GOP data-management firm Optimus. “A field-organizing roll can be a career over there. In our world, it’s a $27,000-a-year job you can’t wait to get out of.”
I do think that younger Democrats are likely to see a life in politics as being some combination of quasi-academic policy work and blue-collar door-to-door work, whereas Republicans are more likely to see it as talk shows and Regenery hard-covers. There’s plenty of grift available to Democrats too, but look at this way: there’s tons of populist grift money for Republicans, but the grift money available to Democrats is almost all of the Third Way/Democratic Leadership Council variety.
The Times has an article about the incredible number of primary challengers Republicans are drawing. As you’d guess, a lot of these challengers are teahadists who love Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.
Whether the energy these people bring outweighs their craziness and tendency to say things that hurt the Republican party, I can’t say, but they don’t have much of a counterpart in the Democratic party. More wonky Republicans might wish they’d go away but they’re not going to as long as the big right-wing noise/grift machine is functioning.
Democrats’ advantage in areas of policy and data-driven campaigning probably isn’t going away anytime soon. Neither is Republicans’ ability to dominate the freak show and drive national discourse.