Joe Scarborough: The real Republican divide


Forget the GOP divide between tea party members and establishment Republicans. If you want to see where the fault line runs in the Party of Lincoln look at the difference between Washington Republicans and other GOP leaders across America.

A good place to start this review would be with the elected conservatives who met on Capitol Hill today. On one side of the table were Washington Republicans who ignorantly followed a self-serving freshman senator over the cliff straight into a government shutdown without an exit strategy. Despite warnings from the Wall Street Journal, Charles Krauthammer, Scott Walker and myself, they charged straight into enemy gunfire and woke up the morning after in a ditch with a 28 percent approval rating. For those trying to minimize the damage caused by the Ted Cruz strategy, Gallup pollsters report today that the GOP number is the lowest any party has received since they began asking voters a question about party approval 21 years ago.

On the other side of the meeting table today on the Hill was the governor of a state that Barack Obama carried by 18 points just last year. Less than a year later, New Jersey’s Republican governor enjoys a gaudy approval rating and a 33-point lead over his Democratic challenger in a state that has gone Democratic in every presidential election following 1988. Chris Christie’s lead represents a 41 percent swing in the Republican Party’s fortunes since last year’s presidential election. Christie’s 68 percent approval rating in a dark blue state is also 40 points higher than the GOP’s approval rating nationwide.

On the other side of the country in New Mexico, GOP Gov. Susana Martinez is basking in a 70 percent approval rating with women and a 62 percent approval rating with men in a state that President Obama carried by 10 precent in 2012. In Ohio, John Kasich’s approval rating is close to 50% in the bellwether state that Mr. Obama took home easily. And in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has been abused by unions and special interests for several years and yet survived a bloody recount fight and enjoys an approval rating close to 50 percent. More important for Walker, his fiscal stewardship has drawn the praise of credit agencies like Moody’s for erasing Wisconsin’s structural debt.

Unlike D.C. Republicans who reside in the 28 percent club, conservative leaders like Walker, Christie and Kasich have succeeded because they have chosen to pass budgets, work with Democrats, and avoid credit defaults. Maybe, that’s why they are the future leaders of the Republican Party instead of those D.C. creatures who are leading Washington Republicans down a political rathole.

It’s time for the Party of Reagan to redefine the debate, stop engaging in stupid fights they cannot win, and focus on creating jobs and tackling the debt.

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