I hope it doesn't come to pass, but Republicans are following what has sadly become a well-worn path that, if things don't change, will likely lead to them to again snatch defeat from the jaws of what should have been an easy victory.

Conventional wisdom says that the party controlling the White House is going to lose seats in the midterm election. Throw in President Barack Obama's low approval ratings, and the Republican quest to take control of the Senate in November should be a cakewalk.


Not that it really matters for anything more than bragging rights. Political pundits are making a big deal over the Republican push to control both the House and Senate, probably because they have to have something to talk about for all those hours they sit on the air. In reality, even if Republicans control both the House and Senate, things aren't going to change much in Washington. That's because even if the GOP gains control and begins passing lots of laws, Obama will be right there to veto them. And there is no way either party is going to get the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. Historically, fewer than 10 percent of all presidential vetoes have been overridden by Congress.

Having a majority in both the House and Senate would position the party well going in to the 2016 presidential election. But if mainstream Republicans continue to let the extremists who hijacked the party run amuck, there won't be a Republican in the White House any time soon regardless of which party controls Congress.

Remember how all the viable Republican candidates were driven out of the presidential race in 2012? Back then, pundits looked at Obama's record and the state of the economy and said there was no way that he could win a second term.

Then Texas Gov. Rick Perry committed the mortal sin of asking Republicans for compassion. Potential candidates like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made the wise decision to stay away from the cannibalistic dinner table, and viewers of debates were treated to often rambling dissertations from extremists like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.

The GOP faithful, for a short while anyway, even favored Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker who was reprimanded and sanctioned in 1997 and resigned the position in disgrace.

The extremists devoured eventual nominee Mitt Romney to the point where, by the time the General Election came around, he couldn't mount any challenge to what should have been a weak and defeatable Democratic opponent.

Now it is déjà vu all over again.

All year long we've heard nothing but how the GOP was going to gain more than enough seats in November to take the Senate. Democrats are weak. Many of the key contested races will easily swing to the GOP. Break out the champagne because the GOP is back from the grave that the Democrats wrongly put them in following 2012's debacle.

So it was more than a little surprising last week when The Washington Post's Election Lab, citing shifts in several key races, gave Democrats a 51 percent chance of retaining control of the Senate. Races in Colorado, Iowa and Kansas were among those cited as becoming tighter and providing optimism for Democrats.

Polls and predictions likely are going to change daily between now and the November General Election. In politics, the only sure thing is that there is no such thing as a sure thing.

But the GOP doesn't appear to have learned any lessons from 2012. True, candidates outside the mainstream were beaten back in more primaries this time around, but the GOP could be so much better and stronger if it lanced the extremists who have co-opted the party.

At the end of the day, it really won't matter functionally which party controls the Senate, or the House for that matter. Government will still be split. The GOP likely won't abandon its ongoing attempts to oppose anything Obama proposes and Democrats will remain on the sidelines doing little more than complaining about how they can't get anything done because of GOP obstructionism. But for the sake of appearances, and to punctuate that they remain a viable political force, it is essential for the GOP to win, and win big in November. They can't afford to let the extremists lead them down the path to defeat once again.

Jim Lee is the Carroll County Times' Editor. Email him at