When it comes to winning national offices and having an associated positive political image, it would seem that, notwithstanding questions of ideology, the Republican Party has three major challenges: its competitive disadvantage among women voters, its struggle to craft a message of conservatism that resonates with young people and young families, and the unpopularity of the congressional wing of the party. Arguably, these factors prevented the GOP and its nominee, Mitt Romney, from winning the White House in 2012, and they threaten the Republicans’ chances of taking back the presidency in 2016. However, these troubles are not primarily ideological in nature; they are issues of messaging, presentation, and image. The question facing the Republican Party is not “is conservatism relevant to the modern political era?” Rather, the question that the GOP should be asking, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, is: “How can Republicans articulate a compelling case for conservatism in order to survive as a national party?” Now, there may be some who would take issue with this question; if Republicans are poised to expand their majority in the U.S. House and possibly win a majority in the U.S. Senate, then how can its legitimacy or relevance as a national party even be called into question? The answer to this charge is relatively simple: the Republican Party could control both chambers of Congress, but without the law-signing authority of the presidency, its ability to enact conservative policy is still limited. Therefore, we return to the challenges obstructing the GOP’s presidential prospects: disadvantages among women and young voters, and the unpopularity of the congressional wing, especially the House Republican caucus. How can the party begin to overcome these challenges? This article will suggest that what the GOP may need is a prominent, young, female conservative, who can articulate the party’s message in a way that resonates with voters who are disillusioned with Republicans. And strangely enough, that woman can be found leading a very unpopular group: the House Republican caucus. She’s the chair of the House Republican Conference, and her name is Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Two things are putting Republican moderate incumbents in danger: Congress’ abysmal approval ratings, and Tea Party conservatives. In a state like South Carolina, where six of seven U.S. Representatives are Republicans, and very conservative ones at that, one Senator has become, in the words of CNN’s Peter Hamby, “one major scalp that conservatives activists have yet to claim.” His name is Lindsey Graham. Last month, Shane Goldmacher of National Journal named him one of the “Top Ten Lawmakers Who Could Lose a Primary Next Year.” He’s been a target of conservative groups who don’t agree with his support for immigration reform and for President Obama’s nominations for the Supreme Court. And almost 53% of South Carolina Republicans and GOP-leaning independents approve of the Tea Party movement. Looking at these numbers, one would think that yes, Lindsey Graham is in big trouble. Actually, he’s not. And here’s why.