A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.It worked. According to Gallup, Congressional approval - 14% in September - is at an historic low. The media is constantly telling us about the low approval ratings for President Obama. We don't hear as much about this side of the story. Its true that the public isn't enamored with the Democrats, but the "pox on both your houses" has Speaker John Boehner's approval rating at 28% (only 46% amongst Republicans).
I would suggest that this is why, as we head into the final stretch before the 2014 midterms, Republican candidates in the deeply red states of Kansas and South Dakota are facing substantial challenges from Independent candidates. If these these candidates do well, I'd predict lots more of this kind of thing in 2016. We could be witnessing the early stages of a new party that would attract Southern Blue Dogs as well as more moderate Republicans. There have already been suggestions that if these Independents win, they might caucus separately from Republicans and Democrats in the Senate next year.
Ever since the Republicans embraced the obstruction Lofgren describes above and fanned the flames of tea party lunacy in their own ranks, many of us have wondered how all this would end. We still don't know for sure. But the Senate races in Kansas and South Dakota will tell us a lot - along with how the GOP reacts to the outcome.